Roca: 'We are ready for the battle'

Albert Roca also insisted that his team needs to find the right balance as it did against Johor Darul Ta'zim in the second leg of the semifinal where it also scored three goals after having scored just two from the three pervious games.

Albert Roca watches his players during a practice session.

Amidst all the euphoria around Bengaluru FC’s achievements, manager Albert Roca has been a calming influence. On Friday, ahead of the club’s AFC Cup final against Air Force Club here, he donned the role again.

“I know it’s an important game,” Roca said. “And the players know it, too. But at the end of it all, it’s just another game. As professionals, the players know that we have a tough team up against us. The most important thing is to be as prepared as possible.”

In the matches thus far — all in the knock-out stages of the competition — Roca has been successful in maintaining his wards’ focus.

“There’s no pressure,” he insisted. “Even if we lose, it won’t be because we didn’t try. We have no experience [of playing in such pressure situations]. But we are ready for the battle. I am sure the boys will be up for it.”

It’s no secret that he and his assistant Carles Cuadrat have favoured defensive solidity from the outset. But Roca said that on Saturday his team needs to find the right balance as it did against Johor Darul Ta'zim in the second leg of the semifinal where it also scored three goals after having scored just two from the three pervious games.

“It's not only about defending well,” he said. “We need a good balance in the performance, as transitions should be quick between the attacking and defending units.”

Roca also exuded confidence that goalkeeper Lalthuammawia Ralte will be a more than able deputy for the suspended Amrinder Singh.

“In his first season here, Ralte had some fantastic individual performances,” Roca said. “He’s always been pushing Amrinder for a place in the starting XI and now he's finally got his chance and I know he'll be looking to make it count.”

Skipper Sunil Chhetri sought to see the bigger picture and said that it was game which was coming at the right time for both him and the nation.

“It's definitely one of the biggest days of my life. Even if we don't win, we are giving hope to the country and I hope other clubs get inspired from this.”