2017’s top 10 — Bengaluru FC: Making its mark in Asia

The club again proved its dominance and class, towering above its counterparts in the country.

In a short span of four years, Bengaluru FC has carved a niche for itself in the Indian football scenario. The club, one of the best managed sports teams in country, is known for its initiatives to connect with the fans. The professionaly-managed BFC was rightly rewarded when the won the Federation Cup in Cuttack during May,2017.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

It was a mixed year for Bengaluru FC. The I-League was a disappointment, with the club dropping out of the title race well before the end. It eventually finished fourth, seven points behind the champion Aizawl. The away form was decisive, with BFC winning only twice on the road all season.

Albert Roca was under a little pressure, but victory in the Federation Cup came as a huge relief. In a tense final against Mohun Bagan in Cuttack, BFC won 2-0 in extra-time, C. K. Vineeth scoring a brace.

The victory, achieved without an injured Sunil Chhetri, handed BFC a spot in the 2018 AFC Cup.

In the 2017 edition of the continental tournament BFC gave a good account of itself, moving to the brink of a second final in two years. Its campaign ended in unfortunate fashion, with a 2-2 draw in the second leg of the inter-zone play-off final against Istiklol of Tajikistan. It was a match BFC might have won with some better refereeing, but it was not to be.

The club, however, again proved its dominance and class, towering above its counterparts in the country. The professional setup has allowed the club to manage its players better.

The AFC Cup was followed by BFC's maiden foray into the ISL. Roca's men started well, posting wins against Mumbai City and Delhi Dynamos before going down in valiant fashion to FC Goa in Margao.

It is apparent early in the season that BFC, due in no small part to its AFC Cup campaign, is sharper and better-drilled than all its rivals.

The laurels

Federation Cup

Champion

AFC Cup inter-zone play-off

Finalist

 

Albert Roca: Our goal is to be No. 1

BFC had a less than impressive I-League campaign, its last before the club hitched its wagon to the more lucrative Indian Super League. Coach Albert Roca, however, was not bogged down by the league campaign and marshalled his team to Federation Cup glory and a superb run in the continent.

How would you rate the team’s performance in the I-League?

It was difficult. It happens in football. We started really well, then we lost in Kolkata, then in Goa... We lost not just the game but even players. At that time we couldn’t make the system we wanted to. Sandesh (Jhingan) was just coming in... John Johnson’s problem (rib injury which kept him out for a month) was not so good. Our strikers weren’t scoring, we had an issue with the fourth foreigner. It was a bad moment for the team. We overcame that but it was too late. It’s difficult for a team to have so much success in such a short time. The team is growing now. We have to look at the things that are now important for the club and achieve that.

What do you think about the Federation Cup success?

It was a very emotional moment. We had suffered a lot during the league. We did not play with Sunil (Chhetri) and Cameron (Watson) in the final; they are very important players. But we had good substitutes. It was a united team effort. We had a plan and it worked.

The team also had a good AFC Cup campaign...

It (the loss to Istiklol) was very difficult and I was sad for my team and the players. They did their best and gave their all. The referees’ decisions can make or break everything. We can’t control the situation. We were prepared for a game. And then with the action (penalty in the second minute) and the red card, which resulted in us playing more than 50 minutes with a player less, it wasn’t possible. It is important to know that we were successful in getting so far in this tournament. Reaching back-to-back semifinals is huge for the club.

What are your expectations from the ISL?

We have a successful background because of which we cannot be less ambitious. Our supporters will expect us to be at the same level as in the last few years. We have to go for that, whatever the situation. Our first goal should be to be among those four teams that will play the semifinals. I think we can reach that stage. Our goal should be that we have to be No.1 even if we are new in the championship. We are ambitious.