Bengaluru FC clinched their second I-League title in three years with a 2-0 win against Salgaocar FC in their penultimate game on Sunday and captain Sunil Chhetri revealed that it was coach Ashley Westwood's warning that spurred them on.
Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri
It was a crucial clash for the Blues against the Goan side as a slip up would have pitted them against Mohun Bagan for a winner-takes-it-all battle. Last season too, Bengaluru FC had to lock horns with Bagan, who scored a late goal to clinch a draw and with it, the title.
"Our coach clearly told us there are no second chances in football. Ashley said 'You need to grab every chance that you get, as you never know what's going to happen tomorrow. This is our only chance, do not expect more chances.' Thankfully, the team delivered," Chhetri, who scored five goals in 14 matches this season told mid-day yesterday.
Recalling the mood in the camp after last season's final game against Bagan, Chhetri said the title slip-up still hurts. "We were hurt because losing the title at home in the last five minutes is not a great thing. Whenever we think about it, it still bothers us."
Bengaluru FC scored twice to beat Salgaocar and the first goal came from Eugeneson Lyngdoh, and the midfielder admitted there was pressure going into clash. "After missing out last season, we were hungrier to win the league and we wanted to do it in front of our home crowd," said the 29-year-old, who plays for FC Pune City in the Indian Super League.
He hopes the Indian football calendar is better planned. "The football calendar in India needs to be better organised, like it is in Europe. In India, footballers play too many matches with less time in between games. Players need time to recover to avoid injuries. Let's hope that happens soon."