'Not awarding penalty cost us the game'

'Not awarding penalty cost us the game'
Left bruised after seeing the I-League title being snatched away from his hands with just four minutes left, Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood felt not awarding a penalty for a perceived foul on Robin Singh in the second half cost them the title.

“The game was going to plan. We were 1-0 up. We pressed really hard, we battled hard, throwing bodies in on tackles. We were controlling the game. We weren't playing fantastic football, but we did what we needed to do, playing the elements, the wet pitch and the thunderstorm etc,” said Westwood during the post match press conference.

“Four minutes is a cruel way to lose something. I don't think we deserved it. Some huge decisions in the game never seemed to go our way. You can't step away from that. I think people make the wrong decisions for the right reasons and they do it because they get it wrong rather than it being premeditated. “But if anybody disagrees with that being a penalty on Robin Singh and a sending off, then they don't know football. Because it's clear to see that Robin is through on goal, toes it past the goalkeeper who comes out kamikaze and clips him, full contact. That's a penalty anywhere in the world. We've been hard done by a poor decision,” he added.

Westwood rung in plenty of changes for the crucial game by naming youngster Udanta Singh and Robin Singh in the playing XI over skipper and the seasoned Sunil Chhetri and CK Vineeth. When asked what prompted him to make such a bold one knowing everything was on the line, Westwood said he just chose the best team.

“The team I selected was the strongest team to win the game and we were four minutes away from doing that. We needed more pace wise which is why we selected Udanta. We knew it was going to be a set-piece game which is why we needed the two big strikers, to deal with their set-pieces, because they're a big side. “If it hadn't been for them throwing an extra body, we would have done enough. We handled their danger players well -- Sony Norde, Katsumi Yusa and Balwant Singh. We kept them quiet and they scored off a set-piece.”

BFC’S FAB FIVE

Eugeneson Lyngdoh: The 28-year-old midfielder was the pillar around which Bengaluru build their strategy. Signed on the heels of the new season, the Shillong-born player notched up eight goals and 14 assists for the BFC. The performance also paved way for his maiden call-up to the national side during the first round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Nepal.


Shankar Sampingiraj: Since its formation, Bengaluru FC has always paid emphasis on developing football in and around Karnataka. If in 2014, the policy gave them Rino Anto, this time it was Sampingiraj who added to the local flavor in the team. The midfielder went on to establish himself as an important member of Ashley Westwood’s side.

C K Vineeth: Roped in from United SC mid-way through their debut season as their fourth strike option, the Kannur-born forward was on top of his game whenever called into action. Scoring thrice in and setting up a few goals, the 27-year-old filled the void created due to a below-par season by regular
strikers Sunil Chhetri, Robin Singh and Sean Rooney.


Lalthuammawia Ralte: He went on to become the wall between the posts. With seven clean sheets in the league, Ralte justified Westwood’s faith in his abilities. Through his smart positioning and quick reflexes he became a force to reckon as a goalkeeper. Moreover, his distribution skills also benefitted Bengaluru helping them to counter at a brisk speed.


Lalchhuanmawia Fanai: The position of left wing back has been a worry for Westwood. Fanai eased it. While his defensive abilities gave the opposition wingers difficult time, the Mizoram-born player was a genuine threat going up front too. Combining well with other wingers, Fanai’s presence meant Bengaluru had more options to utilise on the far end of the pitch.


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