The Fed Cup will come up so we’re hoping to win that and turn the season overall into a positive one.
Bengaluru: As Robin Singh marked his return to Bengaluru with his second goal of the night, up in the stands, her voice hoarse with the relentless cheering, a young fan burst into tears. Her team, Bengaluru FC, had just gone 3-0 down at home against East Bengal.
The match finished 3-1, the latest in a run of eight games without a win that has seen the club crumble down to fifth in the league with 13 points after 10 matches.
The chance of retaining their title is now a distant possibility.
These are testing times. Coming into the season with raised expectations following their exploits in the AFC Cup, few would have foreseen such a wretched season from the Bengaluru club.
It’s not because of lack of effort. The players are working as hard as ever but look progressively devastated every week as they seek, unsuccessfully, the fruits of their labour.
So what’s going wrong?
BFC has no doubt been unlucky with injuries at the back this season. But what’s really led to their woes is that they have been punished with a goal from rare defensive errors during the game. Collectively, they continue to be one of the best in the league.
“Everyone can see the way the goals were conceded. (There have been) mistakes from myself, an own goal and (another) individual error and that’s two games there, mistake from one odd player here and there. So it’s individual errors (that’s cost us) and bad timing (of these mistakes) during the game,” defender John Johnson, who’s missed half of the club’s fixtures with injury and suspension, said summing up his side’s defensive woes.
What worked for Albert Roca and his team in their Asian exploits was the preparation time before each match and coming up with a sort of central box formed by centre backs Johnson and Juanan along with Cameron Watson and Alvaro Rubio. The foursome not only gave defensive stability but also started the moves from the back.
With Rubio opting to head back to Spain, the club has found it hard to fill the role of that box-to-box player who inherently imbibes Roca’s philosophy of pass and move. A fact, that directly co-relates to the team’s inability to break down the opponents with the relative ease of the past.
Eugeneson Lyngdoh has not hit his stride yet, perhaps due to his changing position in the ever morphing formations, while Lenny Rodrigues does not look like the answer to the quick passing style that Roca expects. The return of Rino Anto to full fitness could provide more balance to team as that would allow the industrious Harmanjot Khabra to come to midfield.
Heading further upfront, BFC has been wasteful. CK Vineeth after a blistering start has faded, his first touch and finishing often letting him down. Daniel Lalhlimpuia’s not been able to establish himself against physical defenders. Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh work hard but with little support from their fellow attackers, they have often been left frustrated.
The signing of striker Marjan Jugovic, who has come in after the rather inexplicable signing and shipping off of Roby Norales, could prove to be the difference going forward.
A saving grace for the club so far has been the fans. An ever present rock which forms the foundation of the club offering nothing but support despite the team’s struggles.
While things look bleak at the moment, all is not lost. With the league showing upset results almost on a weekly basis and the Federation Cup and AFC Cup yet to play, there is still much in store for the city club.
“We still have a mathematical possibility to win the I-League. The Fed Cup will come up so we’re hoping to win that and turn the season overall into a positive one. The AFC Cup final is again something we can try. Things can change so quickly in football. We just keep fighting,” stressed a bullish Johnson, just as he is on the field, before signing off.