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ISL Media

Roca and Popovic applauds 'outstanding' Chhetri

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The Blues became the first club to reach the final of the ISL with the win over the Stallions on Sunday night.

Bengaluru FC became the first team to reach the final of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 after they overcame FC Pune City 3 – 1 in the second leg of the first semi-final at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday. Sunil Chhetri led from the front, scoring his first hat-trick for the Blues to put them within a step of lifting the Hero ISL title in their debut season.

Speaking to the media at the post-match press-conference was their head coach Albert Roca and he began by praising the efforts of the Hero of the Match, Sunil Chhetri. “What can I say about him? He’s an outstanding player,” Roca gushed. “There are no words to define him. This was such an important game, and he proved that he is always there when required. He is a wonderful player. Today was a difficult game. So, it was a team effort. It was not just him, but also the other players around him; the entire squad.”

The Spaniard admitted that there was one moment where he felt uncertain about his team’s progress. “When you are losing some games, you try not to panic and try and resolve the situations,” he stated. “We had never had any negative dynamic. We lost only two games at home. But after losing to Delhi, I remember it was not easy. We could have gone up or down, and that was the only moment when I was not sure about our trajectory. But after that we have shown that we deserved to be where we are.”

Before wrapping up, the 55-year-old stated that his team are eagerly awaiting the grand finale. “I am happy to have reached the final in our first season,” Roca said. “The players now have to show all the efforts that we have shown so far, and give their best on the pitch. The club has been doing that all these years. But it is important to keep this team at the top of Indian football. Now, we have to in the title race, which is our last hurdle.”


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FC Pune City bowed out of Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 after going down 3 – 1 to Bengaluru FC in the second leg of the second semi-final at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Sunday. Sunil Chhetri came all guns blazing and scored a hat-trick, while Jonatan Lucca had briefly given the Stallions a glimmer of hope by making the score-line 2 – 1 at one point.

Addressing the media at the post-match press-conference was their head coach Ranko Popovic, and he sportingly congratulated his opponents for their achievement. “Congratulations to Bengaluru for making the final and also all the best to them for that match,” he stated. “They won the game, and they deserve to play in the final which will be played here. They have fantastic supporters, and a fantastic atmosphere here.”

“We tried to make life difficult for them and win the game today. This was our target, but we cannot be disappointed after a historical season for FC Pune City,” Popovic said before elaborating on the goals conceded by Pune. “Both the first goals came from inexperience and if you make these kind of mistakes, in this kind of a game like a semi-final, it is difficult. We tried to be positive and did not give up, but it was just not possible today.”

Popovic also lauded Sunil Chhetri for his stand-out performance on the pitch. “I think Sunil Chhetri is the best ever Indian player till now,” he said. “And also, these kind of players know how to play these kind of games. He scored a hat-trick, and he was the hero. The young players should learn from this. Maybe next year we can get someone in our team who can score three goals like that.”

Published: Mon Mar 12, 2018 11:07 AM IST

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