Newly-crowned English Premier League champions Leicester City inspired Aizwal FC to defeat I-League winners Bengaluru FC in the quarter-finals of the Federation Cup, according to the Indian football club’s striker Joel Sunday.
Joel scored three goals over two legs as Aizawl outclassed Bengaluru 5-3 on aggregate to progress to the semi-finals of the Federation Cup, where they will face Sporting Clube de Goa.
“Leicester City motivated us to upset the ‘Champions of India.’ The Leicester story inspired us to go out on the field and play as it is our last day on earth,” Joel was quoted as saying by aiff.com on Friday.
“Each and every player in the Aizawl FC squad took motivation from players in the Leicester City squad as the Leicester players became something from nothing and we wanted to show the world that we are something. Personally, I drew motivation from Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez.”
The forward said that their hard work and intense training paid off against the I-League champions.
“It is a surreal feeling to defeat them and we are still coming to terms with the fact that we have defeated them over the course of two legs. Personally, I am very happy with all the hard work that we did in the training sessions paid off,” he said.
Not many had thought that the I-League debutants would topple an experienced side like Bengaluru, but Joel said the confidence of players helped them come out victorious.
“We never thought like that. We were always pushing to give our best on the field as we had a point to prove that if we can defeat giants like Mohun Bagan in I-League, we can defeat anybody.”
“The coach (Jahar Das) needs to be credited for the performance of the team and it was a collective effort that got us into the next round. At the same time, a majority of local players constitute the Aizawl FC squad and they need to be lauded as well for their hard work,” he said.
Speaking on the high-voltage semis clash with Sporting Clube, Joel said, “Personally it will be a very big challenge for me as Sporting Goa has one of the tightest defences in India. However, I will look forward to playing against them and will give my cent percent on the field.”