Roca: 'Here to develop football in India'

"We knew before that India was not a very strong nation in terms of football. But we know that in a few years, it can be a strong contender," said Bengaluru FC's new coach Albert Roca, "We’re not just here for the results; we have to help develop football in Bengaluru and India."

Albert Roca hopes that the knowledge he gained from working with FC Barcelona will help him in his coaching stint with Bengaluru FC.   -  Sudhakara Jain

India may not be among the world’s footballing elite, but to Albert Roca this is more a challenge than a deterrent. The new Bengaluru FC head coach, who has previously worked at FC Barcelona and Galatasaray, is clear that he would rather contribute than complain.

“We knew before that India was not a very strong nation in terms of football. But we know that in a few years, it can be a strong contender,” Roca said here on Thursday, as he and long-time assistant Carles Cuadrat addressed the press following their arrival earlier this week.





“We’re not just here for the results; we have to help develop football in Bengaluru and India. We knew the reality before we came. So we accept this challenge.”

Roca, who worked under Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona, Galatasaray and the Saudi Arabia National team before taking charge of El Salvador, has a big task on his hands. He has an AFC Cup quarterfinal tie to win in six weeks and then an I-League title to defend.

“This will be a difficult season,” the 53-year-old said, “We have just six weeks to have the players adapt to our philosophy. In six weeks, we will be [short of] where we want to be here at the club. But the AFC Cup is a big game and we hope things go well. But by the time the new domestic season comes around, we’ll be ready to defend the title. It will not be easy because we are the (I-League) champions and other teams will want to beat us.”

Roca was not worried about the uncertainty around the future of the I-League. “We expect that the ISL (Indian Super League) and the I-League want to mix for the next season (2017-18). It will be a good thing for the country and for football. We know that if they mix both the leagues, the competition will be much better. We are here for two years, which means that we have to be ready for the next season.”

Roca denied that he felt any pressure to match up to Ashley Westwood’s record of success. The Spaniard spoke of bringing his own style of play to BFC.

“All the coaches have their own personality, their way of seeing football, and I have mine,” he said, “I have learnt under some very good coaches at Barcelona and hope to use that knowledge. But I have to adapt to the situation. I have not come here to play as Barcelona. I have to adapt to the players’ skill and talent.”

Roca treasures his time at Barcelona, where he worked from 2003 to 2008.

“To be with the best player in the world (Lionel Messi) for five years is always a big experience,” he said, “Frank Rijkaard is a friend of mine and a great coach. He has won all the titles with one of the best teams in the world. At a professional level, we have a great relationship. I can pick a lot of things from great coaches. But the Barcelona philosophy is not just Rijkaard. It’s a lot of people who have come in before him and it was done over a long period of time. And I hope that I will bring it here as well.”