Bengaluru FC created history after becoming the first Indian football club to reach the final of AFC Cup after they beat defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim of Malaysia. After drawing the first leg of the semi-finals 1-1, Bengaluru FC turned on the heat in the second leg at home and beat JDT 3-1 in the match and 4-2 on aggregate to advance to the final. Sunil Chhetri was once again the star for them as he scored two goals to put BFC in the lead before a header from Juanan sealed the game. Chhetri’s second goal was a 30-yard strike. BFC face Iraq’s Air Force Club in the final on November 5.
They will face Iraq’s Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (Air Force Club) in the AFC Cup2016 final on November 5
Sunil Chhetri scored two goals for Bengaluru and made sure his team becomes the first from India to reach the AFC Cup final
Bengaluru FC beat Johor Darul Ta’zim 3-1 in the second leg of semi-final to enter the finals of AFC Cup. Aggregate score 4-2
ALL OVER! BENGALURU FC ARE FIRST INDIAN TEAM IN AFC CUP FINAL! WHAT A DAY
90+3′ BFC defending everything here. They have done what no other Indian club could. 1 minute remaining
90′ Four minutes of added time to regular time. Four minutes remaining in history. BFC knocking out defending champs JDT
80′ The hero of the match Sunil Chhetri walks off and is substituted by Keegan
80′ Ten minutes remaining in regular time. Can BFC hold on to the lead? They are leading 4-2 on aggregate
75′ GOAL! BFC 3-1 JDT Juanan scores!
Goal number three for BFC! Juanan heads one home after a superb ball. Bengaluru need to hold the lead for 15 more minutes
72′ BFC are leading 3-2 on aggregate and can’t afford another goal. They score one and chances of going into final increase
GOAL! Bengaluru FC 2-1 Johor (Sunil Chhetri 67th minute)
WHAT A STUNNING GOAL! Sunil Chhetri gathers the ball outside the box and powers a strike to the right of the goalkeeper
58′ Bengaluru FC keeping the possession but can they make it count? It’s tied 1-1
55′ Eugene with an excellent run and past the JDT defender but is covered by another JDT player
48′ CLOSE! Sunil Chhetri sends one over the bar. Never in control of that shot
Players are back on the field for the second half. Bengaluru FC and Johor Darul are tied 1-1
HALF-TIME! What a super display of the game from Bengaluru FC. The have managed to keep it 1-1 at end of the first half against defending champs of AFC Cup JDT
45′ One minute of added time in the first half. BFC and JDT tied at 1-1
40′ GOAL! Bengaluru FC 1-1 Johor. Sunil Chhetri (40th minute)
There is your man doing it again! Sunil Chhetri scores for BFC. A corner kick and Chhetri leaps in the air to put it in with a stunning header
36′ Nishu with a good defensive tackle. Johor pressing but it is BCF that has kept up the pressure and the attacks
31′ Bengaluru still pressing hard for that equalisier. Keeping the ball in JDT’s half but failing to find an opening
28′ MISS! Thrice, BFC miss thrice on the corner. Chhetri got an open net but failed to tap it in. Shabby defence from JDT bu they survive
27′ Sunil Chhetri’s movement brilliant as always and BFC also showing urgency. A corner for BFC
24′ YELLOW CARD! Antonio is booked after an argument with referee
18′ CLOSE! BFC keep up the pressure on JDT inside the box but fail to score. Some very close chances with one going straight to the keeper
15′ JDT and BFC have slowed down the game after the first goal. JDT keeping the majority of possession
11′ GOAL! Bengaluru FC 0-1 Johor. Safiq Rahim (11th minute)
A thunderous strike from Safiq from the right side. BFC goalie Amrinder got a hand to it and should have stopped it but it crosses the goal-line
5′ Lyndogh and Vineeth in a little play of magic but the latter fails to respond on a chip and Bengaluru loses possession
3′ First couple of attacks from Bengaluru but all of them cleared by JDT. Both teams in a see-saw battle
1′ Kick-off in Bangalore! History beckons for Bangaluru FC. Will they become first Indian club to reach AFC Cup finals?
JDT substitutes: Farizal, Gary, Shakir, Chanturu, Eldstald, Fadhli, Azinee
Bengaluru FC substitutes: Ralte, Keegan, Vishal, Ranjan, Len, Zuala, Daniel.
Johor XI: Izham Tarmizi, Azammuddin Akil, Azrif Nasrulhaq, Amirulhadi Bin Zainal, Marcos Antonio, Aidil Zafuan, Safiq Rahim (c), Safee Sali, S Kunanlan, Hariss Harun, Hazly Mazlan
Bengaluru FC XI: Amrinder, Juanan, John Johnson, Alvaro Rubio, Sunil Chhetri (c), Rino Anto, Eugenson Lyngdoh, Alwyn George, Nishu Kumar, Cameron Watson, Vineeth
Bengaluru FC have Asian glory in sight in AFC Cup semi-final
So much has changed at Bengaluru FC. Yet, so little has.
The summer looked ominous for them. Their manager Ashley Westwood, who’d guided them to two I-League titles, a Federation Cup win and overseen a remarkable run in the continental championship, had decided to end his three-year association with the club. All but one of their foreign players, too, were let go. For the first time since their inception, Bengaluru looked vulnerable. And their rivals hoped this is where they would stumble, finally.
After a careful scrutiny, they managed to sign highly-respected Albert Roca as Westwood’s replacement. With him came new support staff and a fresh set of international players. Unlike most other Indian clubs (both I-League and ISL), Bengaluru gave their manager a freehand to sign players rather than thrusting them on him. With the new coach came a new playing style.
One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the club’s ability to set new benchmarks. On Wednesday, Bengaluru will get an opportunity to become the first Indian club to reach the final of the AFC Cup, Asia’s second-biggest club football competition after the AFC Champions League.
The Indian champions will take on defending AFC Cup champions and Malaysian league winners Johor Darul Takzim (JDT) at the Sree Kanteerva Stadium in the second leg of their semifinal in Bangalore on Wednesday. Eugeneson Lyngdoh’s wonderous goal has given Bengaluru a slight advantage going into the return fixture, with the hosts enjoying the away-goal cushion following a 1-1 draw.
JDT will be without their three key players Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Martin Lucero and Amri Yahyah. The absence of Argentine duo of Diaz and Lucero, in particular, is likely to hurt JDT. Diaz has had a 30-goal season, including five in the AFC Cup.
But Roca isn’t counting on his opponent’s misfortune. He is believed to have told his team that it would be an insult to their potential if they start depending on, and be happy over, the absence of their rivals’ key players. On the match eve, he tried to shrug off complacency, if any, again. “This team is still champion of the competition. They are still the favorites. It would be a fiercest mistake to consider tomorrow’s match easy,” Roca said.
Roca might be just a couple of months into his new job but he would’ve seen the recording of the AFC Champions League qualifier last year, when a JDT side comprising largely of local Malaysian players defeated the Westwood-coached Bengaluru 2-1. In their two meetings in the group stage of the AFC Cup this year, Bengaluru have lost 1-0 and 3-0.
But in a short time, Roca has made Bengaluru FC defensively-solid, which was one of the key factors in their 1-1 draw a fortnight ago – the first time the club went undefeated against JDT.
But that doesn’t undermine the enormity of the challenge that Bengaluru face on Wednesday. Their biggest drawback, in comparison to JDT, is the lack of match practice. Roca, best known as Dutchman Frank Rijkaard’s long-time assistant at Barcelona and Saudi Arabia, took charge at Bengaluru during the off season, after the I-League was over.
His first assignment was the AFC Cup quarterfinals against Singapore’s Tampine Rovers but apart from the continental matches, he has had to make do with prolonged training sessions to work out combinations. Not just Roca, even their new foreign recruits – Alvaro Rubio, Juan Gonzalez and Cameron Watson – have had just a fortnight to get used to the new surroundings.
While Watson, 29, is an Australian league veteran, 37-year-old Rubio has spent 10 seasons with Spanish league club Real Valladolid and Gonzalez, 29, is a defender who has played for the B-Teams of Deportivo La Coruna and Real Madrid, before moving to German club Fortuna Dusseldorf.
How well these three combine with their Indian teammates will be crucial for Bengaluru. There’s a sense of novelty even for India captain Sunil Chhetri, who is back playing as a striker as against on the flanks, which Westwood preferred during his three-year stint.
Bengaluru, in that sense, may look slightly unsettled as compared to JDT, who have come fresh off a commanding league win and with plenty of matches under their belt.
A lot has changed at Bengaluru FC in the last two months. But they’ll be keen to prove that when it comes to defying odds, they are still capable.