Interview: Why AFC Cup semi-final between Bengaluru FC and JDT is big day for Indian football

Bengaluru FC settled for a 1-1 draw against JDT in the first leg in Malaysia.

Albert Roca
Albert Roca replaced Ashley Westwood as Bengaluru FC's manager Reuters

Bengaluru FC defender John Johnson says his side's upcoming clash against Johor Darul Ta'zim (JDT) in the AFC Cup second leg semi-final on 19 October will be a big day for both the club and Indian football.

The I-League champions enter this fixture after settling for a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Malaysia. Jorge Pereyra Díaz's 53rd minute goal was cancelled by Eugeneson Lyngdoh's strike four minutes later.

Albert Roca will be delighted with Lyngdoh's away goal as they will need a clean sheet to make it to the final of the AFC Cup. Should they achieve this feat, they will become the first Indian club to do so.

Johnson, who has played in England earlier in his career remains hopeful Bengaluru FC could progress to the last stage of the tournament by overcoming the defending champions on Wednesday evening.

"It is going to be a big day for the club and Indian football in general. No Indian team has reached the final so we could be the first team and that's what we are hoping and aiming to do. We are preparing well and looking forward to give our best," Johnson told International Business Times.

In India, cricket is the main sport and is widely followed across the country. Johnson is aware of the fact football is not the number one sport, but admitted that there has been improvement in the sport in India, during his time with Bengaluru FC.

"When I first came here, I had a bit more experience of playing at a higher level than the guys here. I think, the football in the UK is a lot stronger than it is here in India," he said.

"I have just come over here and tried to help the lads and they have helped me, settling in and different things. I learn from them and they learn from me. So it's been both ways."

"I didn't knew what to expect. I expected the standard of football to be less than what was there back home. It has been good so far and how much the club has improved over the last three years. It is heading in the right direction.

"Cricket is the main sport here. Every country will have a number one sport and football in India is not the number one sport, but it is improving and it will get better and better over the years. I have seen improvement in my time here."