Bengaluru, March 11, Heaping praise on hattrick hero Sunil Chhetri, Bengaluru FC head coach Albert Roca on Sunday said his captain defies age and always steps up in big matches.
Chhetri, 33, cracked a treble (15th, 65th, 89th) to guide Bengaluru to the Indian Super League (ISL) final with a 3-1 win over FC Pune City in the second semi-final here. The firt leg ended 0-0.
Bengaluru will either take on FC Goa or Chennaiyin FC in the final on March 17 here. Goa and Chennaiyin played out a 1-1 draw in their first leg. The return leg is on Tuesday in Chennai.
He is simply outstanding and there are no words to define him," Roca told reporters at the post match press conference.
"In such an important game he stepped up. His age does not matter. He pushes others and shows amazing intensity," Roca added.
The Spaniard though pointed out that this is a team game and reaching the final in their first season in the ISL is credit to the backroom staff as well as the squad.
"This is a team game so not just him (Chhetri) but all the people around him did well. The squad, technical staff...all were there (ith the team) in such an important game," Roca said.
Meanwhile, Pune coach Ranko Popovic rued the fact that they do not have a player of the ilk of Chhetri, adding the India captain is the best the country has ever produced.
Chhetri is the best player ever for India. He scored a superb hat-trick. We can only learn from him," Popovic said.
The Serbian coach stated that Pune has a lot of young players who even two years ago dreamt of playing alongside or against Chhetri.
On the pitch on Sunday, players like goalkeeper Vishal Kaith, Isaac Vanmalsawma and substitute Sarthak Golui were part of the India junior teams when Chhetri captained India senior team.
"We tried to make the game difficult for them. That was our idea. We cannot be disappointed. It was a historical season for FC Pune City. Both goals (we conceded) due to inexperience. It's too much if we make such mistakes in conceding goals," Popovic added.
Roca signed off by saying the aim for Bengaluru is always to be the best in India and whatever happens in the final, they had to make it keeping the mind the effort of the owners.
"I am happy for Jindal family, they supported me from the beginning. Their effort we want to do justice to.
"We always try to keep the team on top of Indian football. This is the last step, whatever happens, we have done very well and the supporters."