Doha: A whopping $1 million awaits Bengaluru FC in prize money if they manage to clinch the AFC Cup here on Saturday against Iraqi football club Quwa Al-Jawiya. The runners-up will bag half a million dollars.
This is the first time an Indian club has made it to the final of an AFC competition. Previously, Dempo (2008) and East Bengal (2013) have reached the semi-finals of the AFC Cup.
“The entire country is behind them. They have vindicated our decision few years back to give them direct entry and are now a template for other clubs to follow in India,” I-League CEO Sunando Dhar told IANS over phone.
Bengaluru FC, in their three years of existence, have won the I-League twice and the Federation Cup once.
“I wish them all the very best. In my time with the AIFF (All India Football Federation), there hasn’t been an more important occasion,” added Dhar.
Century-old Kolkata club Mohammedan Sporting SC sent a mail to Bengaluru FC officials wishing them luck.
“The Executive Committee Members of the Mohammedan Sporting Club wishes you all the very best for the 2016 AFC Cup Final against Air Force Club,” the letter from president Sultan Ahmed read.
“You have worked hard for this day. Believe in yourself and in what you can achieve, give the final match your hundred percent and put your best foot forward and we know you will come out with flying colours. Good luck to you.”
Meanwhile, fit-again 20-year-old Udanta Singh is available for selection and will give coach Albert Roca option up front. The Manipur lad’s pace down the flanks is an advantage and he can be used as a substitute as well.
“This is the biggest match of my club career till now,” Udanta told IANS.
Udanta was in the Qatari capital two years back with the Indian U-19 team under coach Colm Joseph Toal.
“I have memories of that trip. I learnt a lot from there. I hope to deliver my best here as this is huge,” the striker signed off.