ISL: Sunil Chhetri revels in leading Bengaluru FC to title

Sunil Chhetri is delighted that Bengaluru FC won the title after losing narrowly to Chennaiyin FC in last year's final.

Sunil Chhetri reveals Bengaluru FC was keen to not concede a goal from a setplay after conceding from two corners in last season's final against Chennaiyin FC.   -  ISL/Sportzpics

This day last year, Sunil Chhetri was a picture of sorrow. He had scored the fastest goal in an Indian Super League final match, but couldn't stop Bengaluru FC from succumbing to a 2-3 loss to Chennaiyin FC. 

On Sunday, life came a full circle as the 34-year-old lifted the ISL title as Bengaluru registered a stunning a 1-0 win over FC Goa.

Bengaluru FC  had conceded two goals off set-pieces in last year's final and Chhetri noted that his side went into the final game adamant on not conceding from one. "Last year we conceded off set pieces and we were dominant until those two goals, so we were sure on not letting it happen today. We have charts in the bathroom for set-pieces. Every training session we had to stand there and master hand signals because every freekick and every corner has a different sign. Today I asked Juanan before the game and he abused me and said even he didn't know, so we had to ask a third guy!" said a jovial Chhetri in the post-match conference."

We have conceded only one goal off set-pieces this season and three goals off penalties and that's commendable. Five out of 10 goals are scored from set-pieces and we worked really hard on them," he added.

The skipper rated the win as one of the biggest wins of his illustrious career. "Last year after the final, I said next year we'll come back. Everyone knew that. Right from the ball boy to Carles, everyone wanted this. We wanted to win this badly. When you lose the way we did last year, it's sweet to win this one. Asia, we're back!" he said. By virtue of winning the ISL, Bengaluru FC  will play the AFC Cup next year.

Chhetri also spoke about the importance of falling back to have more bodies in defence. "We ensured that whenever an attack is finished, we came back to defend – it was paramount for us. As soon as we lost the ball, we made sure we came back to defend and have numbers. (Harmanjot) Khabra and Nishu (Kumar) get security when Udanta and I come back. It was amazing that Corominas had no chances in the three games against us.”

Talking about the influence coach Carles Cuadrat, who succeeded Albert Roca this season, Chhetri said, "They both have a similar mentality – he's slightly different but not vastly. When we went to school this year, everything was more or less the same, but he had minute changes. Gerrard (assistant coach) has been a great help. It has progressive from what we learned under (Albert) Roca and now under Carles. The difference is he didn't win the title, but Carles did! (laughs)”