Chaudhari says Bengaluru FC are ready for Maziya challenge, also speaks of improvement in last four months
Bengaluru FC defender Pratik Chaudhari is all revved up ahead of their AFC Cup Group D South Zone encounter against local side Maziya Sports & Recreation at the National Football Stadium in Male (Maldives) on Tuesday evening. Readers will remember that last year it was Maziya that had shown them the door in their AFC Cup play-off match-up.
Chaudhari, who played 15 games for the Blues in the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL), believes the rivalry between the two teams will enliven the contest from the get-go. “To be honest, I don't know too much about the rivalry. But it's good for football in the country and the continent that two teams are going to battle it out and have a bit of rivalry at this stage,” he said in the pre-match press conference.
Bengaluru FC are out of the inter-zone semi-final reckoning after a 2-0 defeat against fellow Hero ISL side ATK Mohun Bagan and a goalless draw against Bashundhara Kings in their previous matches. Chaudhari, despite those results, believes the team has improved a lot in the last four months or so under new head coach Marco Pezzaiuoli.
“We are a new team with a lot of young players. We're highly motivated and are training well. In the matches we're playing, we're learning with each step. There's a positive vibe in the team that's helping us to play better,” he said.
“From the game against Tribhuvan Army FC [in April] until the one against Bashundhara, you can see we've improved. We're in a good mood and we're ready for the next challenge.”
Finally, the 31-year-old, who joined the Blues ahead of the last season and has since become an important player in their scheme of things, spoke of his pride in being a Bengaluru FC player. “Bengaluru FC is one of the best clubs in India, and I believe it is the best club in India. It's the perfect platform for a player to showcase their talent,” he said.
“When you play for BFC, you have a certain responsibility and you have to pick your game up. I feel any player who comes in should do the job, and will be motivated to do the job,” he added.