Stefano Lilipaly: Tampines Rovers match is a 'big step' for Bali United
Bali: Bali United will mark Indonesia’s return to continental club football when they take on Singapore’s Tampines Rovers in the first qualifying round of the AFC Champions League 2018 on Tuesday.
Ahead of the one-legged match at Kapten l Wayan Dipta Stadium, the-AFC.com caught up with Bali’s Netherlands-born Garuda international Stefano Lilipaly to find out his views on the hotly anticipated encounter.
Q. How big of an occasion is this for Bali United?
For a club like us, this is a very big step. But it’s part of the process that the Tanuri family has in mind with Bali United. And I hope we can improve ourselves even more as we’re representing Indonesian football.
Q. How have the fans reacted to Bali’s recent success and the fact that you will be playing in Asian club competitions?
The Bali fans are so excited and the fan base is only growing. I hope we can keep the same level and focus as last season because then we have a big chance to survive against other teams. But, believe me, when we play at home, the support we get will always surprise the opposition.
Q. What do you know about opponents Tampines Rovers?
To be honest, not so much. I only know that they finished second in the Singapore league last year and that in 2005 they won the ASEAN Club Championship.
Q. Is there added emphasis on the game with the fact it is against regional rivals from Singapore?
No, not at all. We just have one mission and that is to stay in this fantastic tournament.
Q. How important will home advantage be on Tuesday?
Like I said, playing at home is of course a big advantage for us because we always play with 12 men as those amazing supporters give us something extra.
Q. As it's not the Indonesian season at the moment, how has preparation for the game gone in terms of getting match fit?
It was not so easy to get fit for the game because, if you talk about match fitness, we’ve only played one game. But I think we will be ready on Tuesday.
Happy birthday Fano! All the best for you and God bless you! 😇🙏 pic.twitter.com/bIHaCPyMKm— Bali United (@BaliUtd) January 10, 2018
Q. How important for Indonesia is it that you're back in Asian competitions like this?
It’s very important for Indonesian football because in the last few years the outlook has not been very bright. Now it’s time to put Indonesian football back on the map, like we did with the 2016 AFF (ASEAN Football Federation) Championship.
Q. What do you expect from the match on Tuesday?
Of course, I hope we can win because that’s all that matters to me and the rest of the team.
Photos: Bali United