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ISL final: Will it be home disadvantage for Bengaluru FC vs Chennaiyin FC?

Two of the last three finals of the Indian Super League have been won by the away team. Bengaluru FC face Chennaiyin FC in title clash at home on Saturday

football Updated: Mar 17, 2018 10:48 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Indian Super League,ISL 2017-18,Bengaluru FC
Bengaluru FC skipper Sunil Chhetri shakes hands with his counterpart Chennaiyin FC's Jeje Lalpekhlua during a pre-Indian Super League (ISL) final press conference in Bengaluru on Friday.(PTI)

Should Chennaiyin FC (CFC) do it again, it would be the third successive time an away team would have won the Indian Super League (ISL) final. CFC beat FC Goa 3-2 in Goa in 2015 and ATK bested Kerala Blasters in Kochi next season.

The onus thus is on Bengaluru FC to show that home advantage matters in such crunch games.

READ | How Chennaiyin FC, Bengaluru FC used long-term planning to reach ISL final

But then, the last time they were in a somewhat similar situation, Mohun Bagan came here and snatched the I-League title. “I remember winning the I-League here with Mohun Bagan, it was special. Now, I am here to lift the ISL trophy,” said Chennaiyin FC striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, breaking into a smile.

READ | Bengaluru FC’s strengths, weaknesses ahead of ISL final vs. Chennaiyin FC

What could also go CFC’s favour is that they have beaten BFC here. Lalpekhlua and Dhanpal Ganesh struck in a 2-1 win with Sunil Chhetri scoring for the home team.

“The fact that we have come here and won gives us great confidence. It is very similar to going to Goa for the semis after we beat them in the league. I will know what to expect tomorrow and it gives you a much better feeling to come back to a ground where you have won. And we aren’t the only team that beat them here so it just tells you that they are not infallible at home. We have the utmost respect for what they have achieved but we are Chennaiyin. We are not afraid of anybody,” said CFC coach John Gregory here on Friday.

READ | ISL final between Chennaiyin FC, Bengaluru FC brings India’s best to the fore

In four days last December, Bengaluru FC lost successive home games to CFC and Jamshedpur FC. That made it three losses in three weeks after having gone down to FC Goa on November 30. It nearly soured their Christmas break and, at his wedding reception here, Chhetri kept mentioning the defeats. But they have lost only one since, away to Delhi Dynamos on January 14.

READ | Chennaiyin FC’s strengths, weaknesses ahead of ISL final vs. Bengaluru FC

“If the game had happened last week, maybe it would have had some psychological effect on us. But it was a long time back and we too beat Chennaiyin at their stadium (3-1 on February 6). Yes, we remember the result and we have taken our lessons from that, such as they are very strong at set-pieces, but we are not thinking too much about it. Because we played a lot of games after that,” said Chhetri.

READ | Indian Super League final, Bengaluru FC vs Chennaiyin FC: Know the coaches

So what would his message to the fans be? “Come out and support us. For we will put on a show,” he said. A full house of 25,000 is expected here on Saturday with demand for tickets far exceeding supply.

Padukone, Dravid expected

Expected in that full house are former India batting legend Rahul Dravid and Prakash Padukone, the country’s first badminton icon. Dravid became BFC’s brand ambassador last November. Also expected is CFC co-owner Abhishek Bachchan.

Here are a few interesting stats on the crucial title clash:

1. This is the first final in ISL history where the sides that finished 1st & 2nd in the table will go head to head.

2. No side that has topped the table has gone on to win the title previously.

3. Chennaiyin FC’s win over FC Goa in the semi-finals meant that they joined ATK & Kerala Blasters as the three sides that have qualified for the most number of ISL finals. (2).

4. All the previous ISL finals were decided in the dying minutes of regulation time or beyond (Extra Time & Penalties). ATK scored the winning goal through Rafique in the dying minutes in ISL 2014.

First Published: Mar 17, 2018 09:53 IST