Roca: 'East Bengal's goal the turning point in Super Cup final'

The recently concluded Indian Super League (ISL) season, saw managers remain critical of the scheduling.

Alberto Roca was pleased with the way his team, Bengaluru FC, regrouped for the Super Cup, after the ISL final defeat.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Moments after winning the Super Cup, Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca took a dig at the clubs, which didn’t have their full complement of foreign players, during the tournament. The recently concluded Indian Super League (ISL) season, saw managers remain critical of the scheduling.

“It should have been me who complains about the fixtures, as my team is playing AFC Cup since August. No point complaining about the fixture. We have come here to play the Super Cup and win the competition. You cannot complain. It’s like this in football, you have to be professional. The club is paying us to be here, until the last day,” Roca told reporters after his side defeated East Bengal, in the final, here, at the Kalinga Stadium, on Friday.

The Spaniard was pleased with the way his team regrouped for the Super Cup, after the ISL final defeat. During the tournament, his side came back from a goal down, on three separate occasions, to win.

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Talking about the final, Roca said, “For me, the turning point was when East Bengal scored the first goal. Another turning point was when Toni Dovale came on. In the second half, he was always asking for the ball and our team needed that, at that moment. Toni is a perfect player to understand difficult situations.”

Coming into this game, Bengaluru had lost only once, in 21 matches, since January 14. The Blues had scored 45 goals while letting in just 14. However, such dominance could have meant for little if they didn’t have a trophy to show for it.

“This is the success we were looking forward to, from the start of this season. After the ISL defeat, we were a little bit sad, but today (Friday), we showed again we are, perhaps, the most consistent team in India this year,” said Roca.

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In the final, there were decisions made by the referee, which could have gone either way. In the end, BFC’s Gurpreet Singh Sandhu escaped getting a red card, for what appeared to be a last man challenge, whereas, East Bengal’s Samad Ali Mallick wasn’t too lucky. The Red and Golds defender struck Subhasish Bose’s face to receive his marching orders, in the first half.

Opposition coach Khalid Jamil chose not to criticise the match official, although, he felt Ali Mallick’s sending off was harsh. “Samad Ali’s red card was harsh. It could have been a yellow card. However, I was far away and I couldn’t see properly. Playing with 10 men against Bengaluru is not easy. They played well and controlled the midfield. We played with less man, so couldn’t perform well in the second half,” said Jamil.

According to the former India midfielder, his side had to adopt a siege mentality, to counter its detractors, through the season. “Nobody supports East Bengal. Whenever we play against any team, they always fight with East Bengal. We don’t get support from outside. We don’t get many things, because it is East Bengal. This season, everyone worked very hard. All credit goes to the players,” said Jamil.

While Jamil played down talks of his rift with the club’s technical director Subhash Bhowmick, he couldn’t say the same for his job security. "I don’t want to talk about my future. I don’t know if I will stay or leave,” said the former Aizawl FC manager.