Bengaluru FC's line of defence

Bengaluru FC's line of defence

Two to tango: Osano, Johnson have been rock-solid

Bengaluru FC's line of defence

They have been the rock on which Bengaluru FC’s defence has flourished in the past two seasons. With 10 clean sheets from 19 league games to their name, Curtis Osano and John Johnson have been an indispensable part of Bengaluru’s defensive set-up.

With both complementing for each other, the defensive duo has enjoyed a good time on the field throughout the season.

“It’s (the season) been really good for us,” said Osano.

“We work together, live together. That has helped us in working as a team. I believe like the attackers, even defenders flourish well as a pair. They fill in for each other when the need be and that’s how defenders do well. Like everyone knows, Johnson is better in air and will win anything flying high. I just need to be behind him and clean up and that’s how the stuff works.”

The English-Kenyan pair boast of an interception percentage in the higher brackets, letting in just 18 goals in their 19 league appearances. And one might not be wrong in crediting the pair for the team’s good performance this season. “It’s been a long, but a productive year. And as things stand right now, we have a chance to retain the league,” said the Kenyan.

Johnson too believes that the 2015 season has gone according to their script. “It has been really good. We have a shot at the league once again, we won the Federation Cup and reached the last 16 of the AFC Cup. We have been the champions and we are looking to be the champions once again,” he added.

Apart form the two, Ashley Westwood brought in a few changes in the defence with Lalchhuanmawia coming in the left-back role, while Lalthuammawia Ralte has established himself as Bengaluru’s prefered goalkeeping choice. And the duo believes that the new boys have replied well to the faith their coach has shown in them and given some stellar performances.

“It’s been great working with the boys. Rino (Anto), Keegan (Pereira) and even Chhuantea (Lalchhuanmawia)... They too have been exceptionally good,” said Osano.

“And even Mawia (Ralte) in the goal; he’s been really good. Usually when you talk about the defence line, it’s related to keeping the ball away but not this year. We have not only maintained clean sheets but have also helped in netting in a few goals,” added Osano who scored his first ever goal for the club against East Bengal earlier this month.

The 2015 season has had its share of ups and downs for Bengaluru FC. After winning the Federation Cup in January, the JSW-owned side had a below-par start to the season. But, they have caught up and now stand on the brink of a historic title to become the only team to successfully defend the league title in the I-League.

“We know what we can achieve if we win. There is no pressure on us and we are confident that we can put up a good show and be the champions once again,” said Johnson, a former Middlesbrough player.

“It obviously is very difficult (to win the title second time). Every team wants to play the best against us. We have been the best last season, so everyone wants to give a good account of themselves against us. So it’s a bit hard on us. Every team gives an extra 10-15 per cent when they face us. But that hasn’t stopped us,” he added.