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  We are not intimidated by Johor: Sunil Chhetri

We are not intimidated by Johor: Sunil Chhetri

Published : Oct 18, 2016, 2:49 am IST
Updated : Oct 18, 2016, 2:49 am IST

Bengaluru FC’s last match at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium remains fresh in Sunil Chhetri’s memory.

Sunil  Chhetri
 Sunil Chhetri

Bengaluru FC’s last match at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium remains fresh in Sunil Chhetri’s memory.

An empty, silent stadium, forced upon them due to unrest in the city during the Cauvery riots, reverberated among the players in the AFC Cup quarter-final first leg against Tampines Rovers last month.

“That was sad. One thing is to hear that there is going to be no one. It’s another to go feel there is no one. We are kind of spoilt with the support we get from fans here. Vineeth scored the goal and there was pin-drop silence. We won, but again silence. Very sad,” revealed Chhetri with a shake of his head. But what was arguably the lowest moment in the history of the club, who prides themselves on an eclectic following and electric match-day atmosphere, proved to be quite an influential one.

“That was one game where all the players got together. Everybody was like “Bhai, kuch bhi ho jaaye, we had to give the fans a game back. Our foreigners, who hadn’t played a game here before, said the same thing. Our coach, who didn’t even know how it feels like here, said the same. That was so good.

“Thankfully, by our hard work and grace of god, we have been able to do it. The fans deserve it,” he added.

History beckons Come Wednesday, the club will play the biggest game in their history when they host Malaysian side Johor Darul Ta’zim in the second leg of the semi-finals.

A spot in the final beckons, just 90 minutes away. All that stands between them are the defending champions.

“We are not intimidated. Yes, they won the trophy last year. But there no point getting scared,” came the confident reply from the skipper.

“I feel quite confident as a team going into this game. Personally, I am very proud of where we have reached. I just want the boys to go enjoy and play their football. When we play at home, I always fancy our chances. No matter who. That’s the kind of vibe this ground gives me and the players. We fancy ourselves.

“We are just doing the normal stuff that we would do as we prepare for a game. Because I think you have more chances of winning when you do the same things that we have trained. The probability of winning is more when you do the regular stuff than when you try to do something you haven’t trained for,” stressed the striker.

‘Advantage only in mind’ The home side come into the game with a slight advantage of having scored an away goal in the first leg draw. But for Chhetri, the advantage is more mental than anything else.

“It doesn’t change our approach, but yes, it gives us confidence. Imagine, if it was 1-0 to them, then we would be running behind that equaliser from the very first minute. But now it’s a bit different. Not that we won’t be looking to score and win the game, but there wouldn’t be the extra pressure or the urgency to score that goal,” explained the captain.

Location: India, Karnataka, Bengaluru