Slip-ups that cost BFC dear

2014-15 season showed a few chinks in Bengaluru's armour

Slip-ups that cost BFC dear

 “Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character,” said John Wooden, a former American basketball player. Bengaluru FC were on the verge of achieving such a feat until the 87th minute of their final game in the I-League against Mohun Bagan here on Sunday.

What unfolded is now history. But, was the title really lost in those dying moments? Here’s our take on Bengaluru’s season, focusing on factors that could have played a role in deciding the crown even before the Ashley Westwood-coached side took the field on a rain-soaked evening at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium:

Poor start

Starting the league on the back of a triumphant Federation Cup tournament, a lot was expected from the side when they faced Dempo SC in the league opener at their new home — the Kanteerava Stadium —  on January 17.

But to everyones’ dismay, the Blues didn’t look the side that had taken Indian football by storm in their debut year. The hosts played out a goalless draw in front of an enthusiastic crowd.

If the first tie could be written off under the head ‘early season blues’, the matches that followed conveyed the message that Bengaluru’s title defence wouldn’t be a stroll in the park. Bengaluru had to wait till their fourth game to notch up the first win of the season, losing the previous two encounters to Pune FC and East Bengal. Though they bounced back splendidly to come close to retaining the title, the slow start could have hurt them in a league that had just 20 games to play for.

Continental burden

Bengaluru’s stupendous success in their debut season meant the team received a chance to prove their worth on the continental stage. Though the side lost to Johor Darul Ta’zim FC by a narrow margin in their AFC Champions league play-off, they gave a good account of themselves in the AFC Cup, the second tier competition for Asian clubs, by reaching the Round of 16.

The continental commitments certainly had an impact on their domestic form, which was nothing short of being topsy-turvy. With the season cramped into a five-month affair because of the Indian Super League, additional AFC matches meant Bengaluru ended up playing five or more matches a month.

Moreover, the title decider was scheduled on the heels of the AFC Cup pre-quarterfinal match against South China Athletic Association in Hong Kong — a 10 hour flight journey for the team.

Misfiring forwards

With just 13 of their 35 goals coming from the frontline comprising of Sunil Chhetri, Australian Sean Rooney, Robin Singh and CK Vineeth, retaining the title became all the more difficult for Bengaluru.

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