ISL: Bengaluru FC Can Set The Pace

Tuesday, 14 November 2017|Media Release
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Teams in the Hero Indian Super League have reason to fear Bengaluru FC. The southern outfit is only making its debut in this edition of the ISL after four seasons in the I-League but their stunning track record makes them favourites for the title as they are one of the most established sides around
 

In each of their four previous seasons, Bengaluru FC have won a major trophy. It includes winning the I-League on debut. Then, they won the trophy for a second time. In between, they also won the Federation Cup twice and were the first team to qualify for the final of the AFC Cup. With a little bit of luck, they could have played their second successive AFC Cup final this season but Tajikistan’s FC Istiklol had other ideas.

That loss was surely disappointing for Bengaluru FC but makes them doubly dangerous as the heartbreak could act as a springboard to do well in the ISL.
 

“I’m sure the boys have spoken about this. We had a great run in the AFC Cup and were unlucky not to make it to our second successive final. But that’s football for you. We will definitely look to overcome this disappointment by a strong showing in the ISL,” said coach Albert Roca.

 

Bengaluru FC may only be making their debut in the Hero ISL this year but they will enjoy a head-start. They had a pre-season camp in Spain which kick-started even as the other clubs were busy putting their squads together. In Spain, they played friendlies against quality opposition and the four games that they had in the AFC Cup helped them iron out flaws. They begin their campaign against Mumbai City FC at home on November 19.
 

“Our AFC Cup campaign meant we had an earlier start to the season than most ISL teams and that will definitely go a long way in helping us settle down faster in what is a new tournament for us,” admitted the Spanish coach.

 

Both on paper and on the field, Bengaluru FC appear a compact side. India captain Sunil Chhetri stands out as their most important Indian player while the availability of goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu from the reserve team makes them even more fierce. Young Udanta Singh, Nishu Kumar, Malsawmzuala and Daniel Lalhlimpuia (reserve team) have all been retained while Rahul Bheke, Lenny Rodrigues and Harmanjyot Khabra can be as good as anyone else in the competition.

 

Their list of foreign players, too, is impressive. Centre-back John Johnson is again part of the roster and will be the last man standing, while the Spanish contingent – there are five of them – are tried and trusted names.

Spanish veteran Alvaro Rubio, former Real Madrid Castilla centre-half Juan Antonio, former Spain Under-20 international Braulio and former Western Sydney Wanderers captain Dimas Delgado could give Bengaluru FC wings to fly.

 

It’s no surprise that a lot many are willing to bet their last penny and install Bengaluru FC as the favourites. They have no experience in the ISL but can still set the pace, if not a new standard.

“At no point does winning a trophy in the past make a tournament in the future easier. Yes, it does give us confidence, but we will have to work hard right from start to finish if we are to find success in our debut season of the ISL. Football never has guarantees,” said Roca.

 

Squad

 

Indian Players: Rahul Shankar Bheke; Collin Abranches; Zohmingliana Ralte; Lenny Rodrigues; Harmanjot Singh Khabra; Sunil Chhetri; Subhasish Bose; Boithang Haokip; Thongkhosiem Haokip; Alwyn George; Udanta Kumam; Nishu Kumar; Abhra Mondal; Joyner Monte Lourenco; Lathuammawia Ralte; Malsawmzuala; Calvin Abhishek

 

International Players: Juan Antonio Fernandez; John Johnson; Nicolas Fedor; Braulio Rodriguez; Eduardo Martin; Dimas Morgado; Erik Paartalu; Antonio Rodriguez

 

Reserve Players: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Lalhlimpuia Daniel; Prashanth Kalinga; Robinson Singh Khumukcham; Asheer Akhtar