Mumbai City FC defender Rahul Bheke is looking forward to his team's first-ever appearance in the Durand Cup and feels he will have a major role to play in helping the team win the competition.

Bheke, a Durand Cup winner with his former club Air India, believes the Islanders need to build on their success at the AFC Champions League and carry the same momentum throughout the tournament in order to set them in steady hands for the upcoming Hero Indian Super League (ISL) season.

Ahead of their Durand Cup kickoff against Indian Navy at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Thursday, the defender attended the official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the player’s press conference:

What do you see your role apart from being a defender? What do you see as your role within the group?

We had a great campaign in Saudi Arabia, and now as a senior I look forward to having a great season this year too. I look forward to guiding the juniors, we have a good set of players where there is a mixture of juniors as well as seniors. As a senior, it’s always my duty to keep helping them on and off the pitch and that’s what I will keep doing.

You’ve played the Durand Cup before, how is it coming back to this tournament and especially playing it in front of the fans this year?

I think this is the best place where we can start the season where we will be expecting a lot of crowd. I have played it before with Air India and I’ve won it. I’m really happy and excited to be a part of the Durand Cup again, and our team will be playing in the Durand Cup for the first time. So, obviously our aim is to win and do better and get ready for the [Hero] Indian Super League (ISL).

You stood out as one of the key players in the AFC Champions League for your side. How important is it for you to bring that performance now into the Durand Cup at an individual level?

I think it’s very important, as the coach said, we need to continue the way we played in the Champions League as a team and as an individual I feel I should continue in the same way, and help my team to win Durand Cup as well as the Hero ISL which is a prime target.