BENGALURU: Bengaluru FC failed in their bid to reach the AFC Cup final for the second consecutive year but head coach Albert Roca is optimistic that his side can only get better in the season and can win the Indian Super League which begins next month.
"There is less than a month to go for ISL. It is going to test our efforts in that and as much as we work hard, we can take the trophy from there," Roca said after his team lost to Tajikistan side FC Istiklol 2-3 on aggregate in the two-legged Inter-Zone final.
Bengaluru lost the first leg 0-1 in Hisor last month and then played out a 2-2 draw here last night.
Roca said he was optimistic about his side improving from hereon as the players have a never-say-die attitude.
"What I see is that the team does not give up no matter what, so I am optimistic that it will only get better from here on for this team," he said.
"In terms of football, we have a long road and we will have few changes as the season begins," he added.
Roca said he wants his team to forget yesterday's loss to Istiklol and focus on the future and be positive.
Star striker Sunil Chhetri said It was one of those games his side did everything to get a win but to no avail.
Asked what was the talk in the team at half time after Harmanjot Khabra was shown the red card, Chhetri said, "It was really difficult, at halftime the talk was just to go out there and give our best." "And once it began I saw Udanta (Singh) was on the go, he was all over the place from one end to the other that pushed me to do the same," he added.
Roca said it became difficult for the team to continue for rest of the match with ten men. He said he would not entirely blame Khabra, but in crucial matches players need to be cautious.
"The second yellow cost us a lot but it did not cost the opponents much who committed similar action and it's unbelievable. But these are things we have to live with and yes we had to pay for our actions," he said.
On the decisions of referee, Roca said, "Decisions including red carding Khabra put the team on the backfoot and on a difficult position, but these incidents are not under our control.
"I think there was too much that they had to go through.
The actions taken by them are so important that and it can break anything in a game," he said.
"Those decisions and the red card just put us in the backfoot and put us in a difficult decision. But these are certain things that we could not do much about it and it was out of our control," said Roca.