Monday, February 17, 2020

Bengaluru FC: Home of the Captain Fantastic

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The latest addition to our ISL Teams article series is ‘Bengaluru FC’ a franchise from the capital of India’s southern Karnataka state, Bangalore (also known as the center of India’s high-tech industry). There are interesting facts about Bengaluru FC which we will later reveal in this article. First, let’s get all the important and basic details about the club like, how it was formed, and who are the players playing for the club in the ongoing Indian Super League.

ISL Team – Bengaluru FC

Brief Information about Bengaluru FC

Full Name: Bengaluru Football Club

Nickname: The Blues

Founded: 20 July 2013

Home Ground: Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru, Karnataka

Capacity: 25,810

Head Coach: Carles Cuadrat

Affiliation: Indian Super League

Official Website: https://www.bengalurufc.com/

How Bengaluru FC was found?

At the beginning of January 2013, there were rumors that a club could enter directly to Hero I-League, India’s top football league, through cash payment to AIFF (All India Football Federation), and if the club gave their word to build a new football stadium. Later on the same month, it was announced that AIFF had organized an executive meeting on whether to allow teams into I-League directly for the 2013-14 season.

On January 15, 2013, it was officially announced that the federation would accept the bids from corporate groups to directly enter two new clubs in the I-League for the 2013-14 season. The only catch was that they would have to bid for teams outside Kolkata and Goa and would also have to create a new infrastructure around it in the city they bid for.

At the start of March 2013, reports said that JSW Group was interested in the spot in the Hero I-League after having thought to make a team in Bangalore in the past. A couple of months later, AIFF announced that they received three bids for the two direct spot entry, from which the bidders were JSW, Dodsal Group, and an association from Kerala.

At the end of May 2013, finally, it was announced that JSW Group won the rights for the Bangalore to have a direct entry in 2013-14 League season which would be done through their sports branch, JSW Sports. Later in July 2013, JSW launched the club as “Bengaluru Football Club” and hosted the mega launch event at their Bangalore Football Stadium which was also the home ground of the club for the upcoming season.

Ashley Westwood Era (2013-2016)

2013-14 Season

After winning the direct entry to play in the I-League, JSW Group started the process of creating the team. The club’s very first signing was a midfielder from Mumbai Tigers named Khangebam Thoi Singh. Bengaluru FC announced that they signed Ashley Westwood a former Blackburn Rovers assistant manager as their head coach on July 2nd, 2013. Later on the same month, the club announced that they have signed the Indian National Football Team captain, Sunil Chhetri, from Sporting Portugal B.

Under Ashley Westwood, Bengaluru FC played their first match which was a friendly match against the Indian National Football Team which ended in a 1-1 draw. The goals in that match were scored by Bengaluru FC’s Johnny Menyongar and from the national team, it was Lenny Rodrigues scoring the equalizer.

The club played its first official league match against Mohun Bagan at the Bangalore Football Stadium on 22 September 2013. The match ended in a 1-1 draw where Sean Rooney became the first player for the team to score a goal in their debut season. The club registered their first win in their next match where they won 3-0 against Rangdajied United at the Bangalore Football Stadium.

On October 26, 2013, the club played their first away match against East Bengal and the match result also turned out to be their first-ever defeat of the season where they lost to the hosts by 2-0. Exactly after a month, Bengaluru FC registered their first away win in the season where they won by 2-1 against Salgaocar.

The Blues went on winning their debut season of Hero I-League with 14 wins, 5 draws, and 5 defeats from the 24 games played throughout the season. The club scored 47 points in that season and Sunil Chhetri became the top joints scorer of the league with Darryl Duffy and Cornell Glen of Salgaocar and Shillong Lajong respectively by scoring 14 goals in the season.

2014-15 Season

During the I-League 2014-15 season, the club participated in the Federations cup for the second time where they claimed the title by defeating Dempo in the final 2-1 on 11 January 2015. Despite their first cup victory, the defending champions failed to claim the league title where they drew their last game by 1-1 against Mohan Bagan, thus Bagan the league title. Bengaluru ended the season by a 13-match unbeaten run.

In the same season, the club also participated in the Asian club competition for the first time and managed the qualify for the Round of 16 for the AFC Cup.

2015-16 Season

In the I-League 2015-16 season, the club managed to secure its second league title where they defeated Salgaocar 2-0 at home to claim the title. 

The club again participated in the Asian club competition and reached the AFC Cup quarter-finals, after defeating Kitchee 3-2 in the round of 16. Even though achieving heights in the season, Ashley Westwood and the club decided to part ways at the end of the season.

Albert Roca Era & Transition to ISL (2016–2018)

Later in 2016 during the AFC Cup, Bengaluru FC signed Albert Roca a former Barcelona assistant coach as their new head coach. 

In his first game, he helped Bengaluru FC win against Tampines Rivers 1-0 in the first leg of the quarter-finals, and the goalless draw in the second leg helped Bengaluru FC reach the semi-finals of the AFC Cup 2016. The club became the third Indian team to qualify for the AFC Cup semi-finals. In the semis, they were drawn against Johor Darul Ta’zim where the first leg ended in a 1-1 draw, but Bengaluru FC bounced back in the second leg and won the match by 3-1 at home and on the aggregate score of 4-2 they advanced to the finals.

Under Roca, Bengaluru FC became the first Indian team to reach the AFC Cup finals. The finals of the AFC Cup The Blues played against the Iraqi outfit Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya where the club lost to a narrow margin of 1-0 and had to settle for the runners-up in the tournament.

Although having a wonderful run in the AFC Cup 2016, the first I-League season wasn’t that successful where the club finished 4th, the lowest since 2013 in the table.

In 2017, the club won their second Federation Cup title under Roca where they defeated Mohun Bagan in the finals by 2-0, and also managed to reach the semi-finals of the 2017 AFC Cup. In the semi-finals of the 2017 AFC Cup, the club lost on an aggregate score of 3-2 against Football Club Istiklol from Tajikistan.

Transition to ISL (2017-2019)

2017-18 Season

In May 2017, it was announced that ISL, would be inviting bids for two new teams for the 2017-18 season to join the league. In that Bengaluru FC submitted a bid from Bangalore, and later in June 2017, it was officially announced that Bengaluru FC along with Jamshedpur FC (Tata Group) have won the bids and would be competing in the upcoming season.

Due to ISL the rules and regulations of allowing each club to retain a maximum of two Indian players over the age of 21, Bengaluru FC retained their captain Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh. Later on, they went on retaining their defenders Juanan, and John Johnson.

Bengaluru FC made their ISL debut against Mumbai City FC where they registered their win in the debut match by 2-0 where Amrinder Singh and Sunil Chhetri managed to get their names on the scoresheet. They continued their form and went on the win the second match by 4-1 which was against Delhi Dynamos. The first defeat for the club came on their very next match where 10 men Bengaluru FC lost 3-4 against FC Goa.

Bengaluru FC managed to secure the top spot by winning 13 games of the 18 played and gaining 40 points in the process. The club then went on the finish their debut season as the runners-up of ISL 2017-18 season where they lost the finals by a very narrow margin of 3-2 against Chennaiyin FC. With 14 goals, Sunil Chhetri was the third and the first Indian top-scorer of the season.

2018-19 Season

After a successful span of two-year with the club, Roca parted ways and the assistant manager Carles Cuadrat succeded him as the head coach of the club.

The 2018-19 season, kick-off against the defending champions Chennaiyin FC where they registered a win on the first game of the season by 1-0. Later on, the club went to finish the season as the table toppers for 2nd consecutive time. In the playoffs, the team was drawn against NorthEast United FC where they lost the first leg by 2-1 but in the second leg at home, Bengaluru FC registered a 3-0 victory and of the aggregate score of 4-2 they advanced off to the finals.

In the finals of ISL 2018-19 season, Bengaluru FC clashed against FC Goa at Mumbai Football Arena, where Bengaluru FC’s Rahul Bheke managed to score a goal at the 117th minute of the extra time to secure their first ISL title.

Team Details of Bengaluru FC

The current squad of Bengaluru FC for the 2019-2020 season is as follows:

Head Coach: Carles Cuadrat

Goal Keepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Aditya Patra, and Prabhsukhan Singh Gill

Defenders: Rahul Bheke, Rino Anto, Harmanjot Khabra, Nishu Kumar, Albert Serran, Parag Shrivas, Sairuat Kima, Gursimrat Singh Gill, and Juanan Gonzalez

Midfielders: Raphael Augusto, Ashique Kuruniyan, Dimas Delgado, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Ajay Chhetri, Erik Paartalu, Kean Lewis, and Eugeneson Lyngdoh

Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Thongkhosiem Haokip, Manuel Onwu, and Edmund Lalrindika

As per the last game, Bengaluru FC stands second in the 2019-2020 season.

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