Roca: 'It’s the start of a new era for Indian football'

Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca believes his side's journey all the way to the final of the AFC Cup, despite falling at the final hurdle, will kick-start a new era for Indian football.

Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca at an AFC Cup final press conference.   -  AFC

Bengaluru FC might have failed to create history by becoming the first Indian football club to win an Asian title but coach Albert Roca feels that reaching the final of the AFC Cup marks the beginning of a new era for the country’s football.

Bengaluru FC suffered a heartbreaking 0-1 defeat at the hands of Air Force Club of Iraq in the summit clash of the AFC Cup here last night.

“Yes, we have lost out on certain points tonight. They have played a great football but my boys have shown what they are capable of and it might indicate a start of a new era of Indian football,” Roca said at the post-match press conference.

I-League champion Bengaluru FC became the first Indian club to qualify for the final of the AFC Cup, the second tier club competition in Asia, but was chasing for bigger glory and an unprecedented continental title. However, in the end it was beaten by a superior side.

“We didn’t play against such a strong opponent before and obviously we have learnt many a minute aspect from this match. It’ll help us prepare for future and we’ll come back stronger next season,” said Roca.

The Spanish coach applauded Air Force Club for being crowned with the coveted AFC Cup trophy and termed the achievement as a ‘well-deserved win’. “They played a terrific brand of football and I congratulate them from the bottom of my heart for winning the AFC Cup, that becomes more special as they are the first club from Iraq to achieve this.”

Although Roca admitted that Iraqi side totally outplayed the Indian team, he acknowledged the efforts of his boys, especially goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte.

“He has always pushed Amrinder (Singh) for the place in the starting eleven, and he truly performed and stood up when the situation demanded,” the coach said.

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