Bengaluru eyeing AFC Champions League qualification

Bangalore, April 23 (IANS): With the I-League title in the pocket, up next for the Bengaluru FC team is to qualify for the AFC Champions League, said the club officials as the squad soaked up adulation on arrival here Tuesday.

Speaking at a packed media conference here Wednesday, the club's CEO Parth Jindal pointed out that having won the I-League on debut, BFC was eyeing another milestone, that of becoming the first Indian team to qualify for the regional Champions League.

"This has been a fantastic journey for all of us at the club. The fact that we are I-League champions is yet to sink in. Things will only get bigger and better from here."

"When we started, we were fighting with the All India Football Federation (AIFF) that we don't get relegated. So, to come here as a champion, is unexpected," he said.

"One thing is for sure, we are not going let go of the title soon. But for that, we will have to improve and reinforce our team. We want to be the first India team to qualify for the AFC Champions League," said Jindal.

Coach Ashley Westwood, who along with the team was given a rousing reception at the Bangalore airport on their arrival from Goa Tuesday after defeating Salgaocar 4-2 to clinch the title, said he was savouring the moment.

"Any championship title is a huge success. I wouldn't compare it to anything else, but it's a fantastic honour and I am really proud and privileged to be the head coach."

"It's right up there with the most successful things I have done throughout my career. It's the greatest feeling in the world and I wouldn't take any shine off it by comparing it with anything else," said Westwood.

Skipper Sunil Chhetri, who is tied top scorer with 14 goals, said: "People have said that I play for the country but never turn up for clubs and I'm glad they do that."

"It only motivates me to perform better. There is the possibility of me ending up top scorer in the League and that says a lot," said Chhetri referring to the concluding away fixture against Sporting Clube de Goa later this week.


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