Super Cup 2018: Albert Roca: Mohun Bagan are tougher this year

The Bengaluru FC gaffer is still addled by the ISL final defeat ahead of the Super Cup semi-final clash against the Mariners

Bengaluru FC are a step away from making their second final this season as they face Mohun Bagan in the second semi-final of the 2018 Super Cup, at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, on Tuesday.

Of the 13 times the two teams have come across each other, Bagan have a better head-to-head record of five wins as compared to Bengaluru's three wins. However, before joining the Indian Super League (ISL) band-wagon, the Blues had defeated the Kolkatan giants 2-0 after extra time to clinch the 2017 Federation Cup which is now rechristened as the Super Cup.

"Mohun Bagan are even tougher this year, more difficult than NEROCA. It will be an exciting clash. Mohun Bagan are one of the best teams in the competition. I would love to have the same luck we had with them last season. The scenario has changed in one year. It's not easy. The team has proved they are in a good shape. It will be a real challenge," stated Bengaluru coach Albert Roca.

The Spaniard added, "I don't think my team are favourites. All favourites are losing in the Super Cup. When the difference is so close, I don't want my team to feel superior. Time for us to know how difficult it will be tomorrow (Tuesday). My players know that."

Roca mentioned that it will be difficult to beat their opponents who have a good balance albeit missing the services of Haitian star Sony Norde.

"It's true I am lucky to have such players (at Bengaluru FC). But we have to win tomorrow. Everyone has to be 100 percent and have the same idea. They (Bagan) have new players. I saw the last game against (Shillong) Lajong, they have good balance. Norde was not there but the team has more balance now. It will be more difficult for us to beat them and reach final," he commented.

GFX Albert Roca Bengaluru FC 2018 Super Cup

The former Galatasaray assistant also spoke of the advantage the depth of his squad offers while confirming that Rahul Bheke will miss the semi-final.

"Rahul Bheke is not available. Perhaps, if we reach final, he may be available. He is a good player for us who was doing well. But Nishu (Kumar) is also doing well. He is young and there in the national team. It is not about one player. All players have proved that they are fit to play for Bengaluru FC," Roca affirmed.

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With regard to coming within sniffing distance from being crowned champions in their maiden ISL stint, Roca remarked, "It was a shame we were at the top of the league but lost in the knock-out (final against Chennaiyin FC). Now we have an opportunity. It's knock-out tournament. We are in the semis. We will try to win the tournament."

About the hot and humid playing conditions amid a 4 PM IST kick-off, he said, "I won't lie [that] fatigue is there. But this is still fine. Last year it was more difficult with just a day's gap (in the 2017 Federation Cup). Can't complain now."

Harmanjot Khabra, who is likely to replace the injured Bheke, also added a word of caution ahead of the match. "More youngsters are playing. They are unpredictable. They have talent and experience. It will be a tough challenge for us."