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  Bengaluru FC 90 minutes away from history

Bengaluru FC 90 minutes away from history

| SANDEEP MENON
Published : Oct 19, 2016, 7:16 am IST
Updated : Oct 19, 2016, 7:16 am IST

Bengaluru FC’s future now can shape Indian football’s history.

BFC players at a practice session in Bengaluru on Tuesday.-AA
 BFC players at a practice session in Bengaluru on Tuesday.-AA

Bengaluru FC’s future now can shape Indian football’s history.

Paradoxical as it sounds, the I-League champions are 90 minutes, or perhaps a bit more, away from potentially becoming the first Indian club to enter the AFC Cup final.

That will be the proverbial carrot when they take on mighty Johor Darul Ta’zim in the second leg of the AFC Cup semi-final at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Wednesday.

Following a one-all draw in the first leg in Malaysia, the Men in Blue go into the match with a slight advantage of having an away goal in their kitty.

Having punched above their weight for a club so young, if Bengaluru get past their more seasoned and decorated rivals, it would not only be the crown jewel in their brief but glitzy history but a tangible goal for every Indian club as well as a ‘stand up and take notice’ moment about the potential of the ‘sleeping giants of football.’

Twice before, through Dempo SC and East Bengal, Indian clubs have been at this stage but neither were as well positioned as BFC are heading into the second leg.

Third time is a charm, goes the saying. While a nil-nil draw will suit the Indian side just fine, to rest on their laurels would be a dangerous game to play. A move that is quite unlikely, considering the philosophy of head coach Albert Roca.

The former Barcelona assistant manager has just had little over two months to instil his possession-based style into the club but he has done remarkably well. While certainly not a finished product, a return of two draws and one win in three matches at the second tier continental competition, following a prolonged period of in action, with just one goal conceded is quite an impressive show.

While their performances have been defensively strong, the coach will be hoping for a more clinical finishing against the defending champions with the onus falling on the shoulders of captain Sunil Chhetri and C.K. Vineeth to get the goals.

With his team selection favouring creative midfielders, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Alvaro Rubio will be tasked with the duties with support from the gifted but inconsistent Alwyn George on the right and Australian Cameron Watson as the connecting link.

For the visitors, who have a horde of internationals in their squad, much will depend on the performance of Singapore midfielder Hariss Harun, while Brazilian Marcos Antonio and Mohammed Zafuan forming the defensive core.

Location: India, Karnataka, Bengaluru