Bengaluru FC: The new force of Indian football
It was seen as a hastily built team but they silenced their critics last season when in their first season as a professional club, Bengaluru FC won the I-League. While some people did lament about the luck they had in winning a league which didn’t really have a lot of competition, credit must be given to Bengaluru for doing something which was not expected from the team, winning a league in a first year of formation is testament not only to the players but also to the management and manager Ashley Westwood deserves all the plaudits that he is getting.
Owned by the JSW group, Bengaluru FC has tried to change the way football clubs are run in India by setting up a more European style of team management and that has paid off handsomely for the team. They have also been able to sign some of the best Indian talent with India captain Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh being a couple of great players. After winning the I-League last season they wanted more silverware when they played in the Federation cup and sadly lost out in the group stages as they only won 1 game, this season they came back with a vengeance.
2015, a new dawn for Bengaluru FC
The Federation cup was played in 2015 in Goa and was expected to be a tournament to be won by one of the Goa teams, Bengaluru FC were out there to change all that. Bengaluru went through the tournament all unbeaten till the final.
Bengaluru beat Salgaocar, another Goa club 3-2. They then drew with Mohun Bagan 0-0 before beating Shillong Lajong and Pune F.C. to book a place in the semi-final against another Goan club, Sporting Goa.
Bengaluru were not going to dwell on past mistakes and dismantled the Goa team 3-0 to set up a final against Dempo FC who were looking to win their 2nd Federation cup title but Bengaluru had other plans.
They had their star striker Sunil Chhetri on form, who was leading the tournament with most goals scored and the team had to take on a tough Dempo team who had Romeo Fernandes and Tolgay Ozbey shooting on all cylinders.
The Final countdown
Bengaluru had kept 4 clean sheets on the way to the final and while their defence was the most appealing part of their team, their attack was not bad as well. Apart from Chhetri they had Sean Rooney who was just a big a threat to the opposition as any other player. The defensive pairing of Curtis Osano and Jack Johnson were the base for a strong and resilient foundation which made it hard for any team to score against the Bengaluru team.
Bengaluru drew first blood against Dempo when Chhetri scored from a penalty spot but the Goans were not going to lie down and drew level thanks to Tolgay Ozbey, who also converted from the penalty spot. The substitute Robin Singh got the all-important goal for Bengaluru in the 65th minute to ensure that Bengaluru win the Federation cup for the first time in their history and in the second time of asking.
Putting it all into perspective, a team which had no history in football setup a club in 2013, they then won the I-League, the biggest competition in the country before winning the Federation Cup the following year. Bengaluru is a success story which should not be taken lightly, they are backed by big money however, so it isn’t a story where they had to work extra hard. There is no doubt that the management had to deal with a lot of issues to ensure that they play and win at the optimum level. They now have a hard task of making sure this was not a flash in the pan and what they need to do is push on and if they play their cards right, they could end up dominating Indian football for quite a while.
Picture courtesy: Rediff, Telegraph, one India & Goal
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