Indian Super League 2017-18: Bengaluru FC aim to repeat I-League heroics on debut
Bengaluru FC, who have won the I-League title twice in four seasons, are one of the two new teams in the 2017-18 edition of the Indian Super League as they look to repeat their success in their debut season.
Bengaluru FC, the two-time I-League champions will be taking part in the Indian Super League (ISL) for the first time this season. The Bangalore-based team, which was established in 2013, was one of the most successful sides in the I-League. With two titles in four seasons, they were a force to be reckoned with and their performance in the Federation Cup, AFC Cup cemented their spot in Indian football history.
The 2016-17 season did go well for them as they failed to win crucial games and as a result, were fourth at the end of the season. But, they became the first Indian side to reach the AFC Cup final and although they were beaten by Air Force Club Iraq, their performances captured the imagination of almost every Indian football fan.
In 2017, after losing out in the inter-zone play-off final of the AFC Cup, Bengaluru FC bid for an Indian Super League spot and they became the latest addition to the tournament. The side, which will be captained by Sunil Chhetri, played their pre-season matches in Spain and the Blues will surely be looking to start their journey on a high.
PAST RECORD: Competing for the first time in the tournament
COACH: Albert Roca (Spain)
The former FC Barcelona assistant coach was appointed as the manager of Bengaluru FC in 2016 after the club parted ways with Ashley Westwood. Roca, who had prior coaching experiences with first-team Galatasaray and Saudi Arabia, did not take long to get accustomed to his new team and the results were instantaneous. He opted for an attacking 3-4-3 formation and thanks to their attacking prowess, Bengaluru FC became the first Indian side to reach the final of the AFC Cup. Under his guidance, the team clinched the Federation Cup last year and he will surely be aiming to win the Indian Super League title in their debut season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Sunil Chhetri (India)
The Indian football team skipper is probably the most well known player in the Bengaluru FC squad. During his illustrious career, Chhetri has played for a number of clubs in India and he is one of the few players to win the I-League title with three different sides (Dempo, Churchill Brothers and Bengaluru FC). With 55 goals from 96 matches, he is currently the top-scorer for India and his leadership skills were one of the key factors behind Bengaluru FC’s success.
The 32-year-old forward makes the switch to India after lengthy stints with Rayo Vallecano and Getafe. His four-year spell with the Madrid-based Getafe saw him score 26 La Liga goals in 90-plus appearances. He has also represented Celtic in the UEFA Champions League while playing in the UEFA Europa League for Getafe and Valencia. On the international level, Miku has 51 caps for Venezuela and his most notable goal came against Brazil during the 2015 Copa America.
Udanta Singh (India)
The youngster from Manipur made his debut for Bengaluru FC in 2014, but his pace and dribbling power has made him a hot favourite among the fans. He was a product of the Tata Football Academy. Although he was part of the Mumbai City FC squad in ISL 2016, he played just one match for the franchise. The 21-year old winger is well known for his swift attacks through the flanks and in March 2016, he made his international debut in a World Cup qualifier against Iran.