Even though the term Bangalored has a negative connotation to it, when you see what unfolded in the 2013-2014 I-league season, it is pretty much obvious that Bengaluru FC Bangalored the I-league title. Since its inception in 2007, I-league has been synonymous to the victory of Goan clubs. In 2013-14 season, Bengaluru FC smoothly captured the reigns and brought the title home!
When Bengaluru FC backed by JSW was announced in July 2013, two tasks were in front of them. Of course building competitive team would have been the first priority, but the second wouldn’t have been that easy. Bangalore is a football loving city, when local clubs like ITI and HAL play, a good number of crowd is present in the stadium cheering these teams. The challenge in front of the newly formed Bengaluru FC would have been to appease the traditional football crowd and attract a new gamut of crowd who are mainly followers of European football. With 23 matches into the league and the title in pocket, it is obvious that Bengaluru FC managed this fete with aplomb. With promotions, smart tie-ups and social media presence, the club managed an average attendance of 7500 in every home match.
The team, captained by national captain Sunil Chhetri also lived up to the expectations. When the club was formed in July, there were not many players to choose from as other clubs had already snapped up players. However, shrewd recruitment and excellent coaching from Ashley Westwood saw many players who were earlier bench-warming with other clubs rise to the occasion. Players like Beikhokhei Beingaichho, Darren Caldeira and Thoi Singh are prime examples. While all other I-league clubs hired and fired overseas players all through the season, Bengaluru FC’s foreign contingent has been top performers for the team.
With high attendance on even week-days, Bengaluru FC with their vociferous supporters made the home turf an impregnable fortress. Of the twelve home matches, they lost a match, drew four and won all others. Though there were frailties in away matches, the team managed to rope in victories while traveling too. With winning the I-league title, AFC Champions League matches will be on cards for Bangalore.
Bengaluru FC has been a fresh whiff of air in the otherwise morose footballing scene in India. It is almost like after the team was formed they never put a foot wrong. Let us hope Bengaluru FC’s success is emulated by other I-league clubs by reinventing themselves.
Bengaluru FC’s Long road to I-league 2013-14 title