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The Eagles soar high into the knockouts, Bengaluru's journey into the Top-4

Sabari Jagannathan  |  Featured Club  |  1 Year Ago

They were the newbie’s on the circuit. Bengaluru FC is a relatively newer club to Indian football who have made inroads into the Asian scene for Indian clubs. So de facto the expectations from their loyal fan base and the fans of Indian football were sky high. Roca’s side had the advantage for being together for a long time. Football is blessed with divine souls who can win any match on their own but success for the side from South reemphasizes that football is still a team game and cohesiveness counts for the most.

Bengaluru’s journey kicked off in a spectacular style as ISL witnessed the collective brilliance of a team that has won so much in a short span of their existence.

The Grand Opening

Like many blockbuster movies from the South, there was a lot of hype around their debut for the campaign. The fortress, as they like to call Kanteerava was preparing to host its first ever ISL match. The Eagles did not disappoint their fans. The match saw ecstatic crowd cheering their side on as they registered an impressive performance. They had 17 shots on target while Mumbai city managed to have just one. Edu Garcia scored BFC’s first ever ISL goal, and the history was made. The show however was just beginning.

 

The Eagles then played their second match within the next few days and they dished out yet another attacking master class. They outclassed Delhi 4-1 at the fortress and ISL witnessed their excellence in their set piece game. There was an aura of invincibility around the city of gardens.

 

They played their first away match of the season against Goa. The team displayed incredible character and strength in their first loss of the season. They were reduced to ten men after Sandhu was sent off. Despite playing with 10 men for major part of the game, Bengaluru FC ran the show and almost pulled off an incredible come back. If ever there was something known as an honourable defeat, it was certainly one. This game was followed by a high intensity away game against the highlanders and Bengaluru dished out a hard fought 1-0 win. It is often said that the champion sides are those who know how to dish out a result when they are below par and Bengaluru won on a night when they weren’t at their fluent best. The match was followed by a stroke of luck in their next away game at Pune. Bengaluru were trailing in the game until the hosts got Sahni Red carded for his mistimed tackle. Like any champion side, Bengaluru FC took full advantage and secured a 3-1 win that night.



The Minor stumble

Bengaluru had won four of their first five games. They were looking increasingly tough to beat. The next game was a huge game at their fortress. Chennaiyin FC was visiting the fortress on the back of good results. The match was important in more than one way. It was a matter of pride for the local fans as their rivalry off the field was intense. Their Southern neighbours prevailed on a very disappointing night for the hosts. It was their first home loss. While Bengaluru would have ideally liked to bounce back in their very next game, it was yet another home loss against Jamshedpur. Both matches were lost to goals in the closing moments of the game. Their flawless campaign was under the threat of falling apart. Their next game was a tough away fixture in god’s own country.

Bouncing Back in Style

The former I-league champions stamped their authority throughout the match and took 19 shots on goal out of which 10 were on target. Kerala had only one shot on target and they struggled to keep possession or beat the high pressing game of Bengaluru. Just when people thought Bengaluru could have a run of poor form, they bounced back in style in one of the most hostile environments in ISL.

 

It was followed by an impressive home victory against Kolkata. A revamped Delhi gave a reality check for them in the next match and the cramped schedule packed with fixtures from ISL and AFC cup promised to test the depth of their squad.

 

When the going got tough, the Bengaluru boys became even tougher. They hadn’t put a foot wrong since then winning 6 of their last 7 games. (1 inconsequential AFC cup draw against Transport United in which none of the first team players took part). In ISL, it was 5 wins on the trot.

 

They registered an impressive 3-1 win against Mumbai at Mumbai and followed it up by beating Northeast United 2-1. Then it was time for them to do the double over defending champions Kolkata and they didn’t miss out on the chance.

 

With momentum clearly on their side they travelled to Chennai seeking vengeance on behalf of their fan base. Chennaiyin were coming off a long break while the visitors have almost been playing games every three days. Chennaiyin were rusty and Bengaluru made them pay early in the game. They avenged their defeat at home and put their southern rivals in an itchy position to qualify for the playoffs.

 

They welcomed Goa to the fortress with an opportunity to seal their knockout berth ahead of their AFC cup ties. Just like they have been throughout the season they took the opportunity with both the hands. In a historic night at the Kanteerava stadium, amidst reverberating chants of BFC, they did it. Nobody was surprised. This was a team that has been playing together and playing well for so long. This is a team that is carrying the Indian flag high and proud in the AFC stage. Nobody was surprised when they became the first team to qualify for the knockouts. And that in itself is homage to their extraordinary team.

 

Even after a few more matches, there is still no clarity over who will take the other three spots in the knockouts. The other teams will not only look to seal their playoff spot but they will also look to avoid this Champion team. To beat this Bengaluru FC team over two legs is going to take one hell of a performance and currently no ISL team looks capable of it.

 

Like John Gregory, Chennaiyin FC coach said “It is a privilege to have a team like Bengaluru in the league”. It sure is, John!!


Can Bengaluru FC win their maiden ISL title?
 YES
 NO





 

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