Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Bengaluru FC were knocked out of the AFC Cup by Turkmenistan champions Altyn Asyr last week, dealing a blow to the club's pre-season plans. The Blues had embarked on a pre-season trip to Spain much ahead of the start of the ISL season with the AFC Cup campaign in mind.
However, the 2-5 aggregate loss in the two-legged tie in the Inter-Zonal semifinals has left them without any games until September 30th which is when their ISL campaign gets up and running. The Blues' midfielder Erik Paartalu certainly is not impressed at how their AFC Cup campaign has gone.
He also went on to concede that Bengaluru FC were thoroughly outplayed by Altyn Asyr.
"That’s the thing about this competition (AFC Cup). A team from Iraq has won the last two years and they're a very strong team. The team we faced in the quarter-finals last year were from North Korea and they were really good too," Paartalu told Goal. "We were lucky to beat them. This year we lost to a team from Turkmenistan but they were really strong. "
"I think Indian football is one thing but when you go into Asia and these countries that no-one’s really heard about in world football - they’re getting stronger and stronger. They were just a really solid team all around the pitch and we just didn’t play well."
The 32-year-old would then go on to express his frustration at how the team's pre-season has panned out.
"I think it pissed everyone off. Other teams were getting longer vacations and whilst as a professional player you don’t want to have too much time off, finishing a month after everyone else (last season) and coming back a month earlier just for these two games and then losing these two games, It’s felt like a bit of a waste of time to be honest."
The Aussie, however, is already looking at the silver lining, pointing out an early start gives Bengaluru FC a chance to be more match-fit by the time ISL starts, thereby allowing them to hit the ground running.
"But it was a good learning curve for us as a team but also at least the team is now in a position to be fitter and that definitely helped us last year in the ISL campaign because we were so much fitter than everyone else at the start of the campaign."