We can't stress the importance of the AFC Cup final enough and even when history is being made by Bengaluru FC as they have become the first ever Indian football team to play in the final of the coveted Asian football competition. Bengaluru FC have had a dream of a journey in the competition so far, but well, their opponents Al Quwa Al Jawiya (Air Force Club Iraq) are not an easy challenge by any means. LIVE UPDATES HERE
Doha's Suhaim Bin Hamad Stadium will host the second-most important match in Asian football on Saturday, the first being the AFC Champions League final, to be played over two legs on the 19th and the 26th of this month.
A final is always an evenly balanced encounter as there are no favourites or no underdogs in a final. What remains to be seen is how much Indian audiences remain present at the 13,000-seater stadium during the match. From the numerous photos we have seen so far, it is looking like the majority of the stadium in Doha will be occupied by the Indian fans.
"We've met so many Indian people since we've come here and they have all promised to come out in numbers and back us which is wonderful for the boys," said Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca in the pre-match presser.
It was captain marvel Sunil Chhetri's heroics in the semi-final at Bengaluru's Sree Kanteerava Stadium last month that saw Bengaluru FC becoming a part of the history. The importance of the occasion cannot be explained much and it is not just about Bengaluru FC or Eugeneson Lyngdoh or Chhetri on the matchday. It is about India as a whole, according to the 32-year-old star forward.
"I've played many a crucial match in my entire career but this one stays at the top of the pyramid. It's not only a significant football match for me and for my club but for the entire nation and it's coming at the right time," said Chhetri. "We can't predict future, but surely when we hit the ground, we'll push our limits to get the job done," he added.
Lest we forget, the Iraq side are also leaving no stones unturned to land home their first AFC Cup title.
AFC Cup final 2016: Al Quwa Al Jawiya (Air Force Club Iraq) vs Bengaluru FC is set for a 7 pm local time (9:30 pm IST) start on November 5.
Where to watch live
India: TV - Star Sports 1/HD 1. Live streaming - Hotstar.
Malaysia: TV: Fox Sports 3. Live streaming: Fox Sports Play.
Live scores: official Bengaluru FC Twitter handle.