Mumbai City FC defender Rahul Bheke was the right player at the right place and right time for his side in their historic 2-1 triumph over Iraqi side Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (Air Force Club) in the AFC Champions League group stage match.

In what was a terrific comeback performance from the Islanders, Bheke scored the match-winner for his side, a well-placed header from an Ahmed Jahouh corner in the 75th minute.

“We’re extremely happy that we got our first win in the AFC Champions League, so it’s a proud moment for our team as well as for the country. As the coach said, we all are happy. He told us before the game that we have to create history by getting that first win, scoring that first goal, getting that first assist, and keeping the first clean sheet. So, I’m happy for all of it except for the clean sheet. It’s a good result and we all are looking forward to the next game and getting another win,” said Rahul Bheke, in an exclusive interview with the ISL Media.

Besides helping his side become the first Indian club to win a game in the AFC Champions League, the Mumbaikar etched his name on the scoresheet as the first Indian goalscorer in the continental competition, continuing to be a prized possession in the Des Buckingham-led side.

The 31-year-old defender added, “It’s a proud moment for me, for my family, for my team as well as for the city where I belong and I think everyone will be happy because we also got our first win, it’s just that we’re missing the fans here but hopefully we’ll see them in the stands soon. We’ll be playing in front of them soon.”

On asking how it feels to become the first Indian goalscorer in the AFC Champions League, he said, “Yes, it’s really important for me that whenever I go forward for set-pieces, I help my team, which is what I did in the ISL season. And now I got my first goal here, so I’m really happy for that and I’ll keep on going like this whenever I get those chances.”

Breathing a sparkling form, Bheke will be a vital cog in delivering success for his side in the upcoming fixtures in the AFC Champions League.