Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bengaluru make last 16 of AFC Cup with resilient win over Maziya

Bengaluru FC Media 

Sunil Chhetri brushed off a goal-scoring drought and turned up with a brace when it mattered the most as Bengaluru FC came back from a goal down in humid playing conditions to beat Maziya S&RC 1-2 at the National Football Stadium, in Maldives, on Tuesday and book a place in the last-16 of the AFC Cup.

Chhetri tucked home a penalty in the 70th minute after Sean Rooney's cross caught a sliding Saaif's arm in the box, and followed it up with a peach of a finish eight minutes later when Udanta Singh picked him out with a delightful lob for a pass as the Blues were rewarded for an impressive show for most parts of the game.

The win, Bengaluru’s third on the bounce away from home in all competitions, keeps the Blues on second place with 12 points and one behind leaders Persipura Jayapura who travel to Bengaluru to play a game which will decide who finishes Group E as leaders.

A 4 pm kick-off in humid Male meant battling more than just group contenders as Ashley Westwood took advantage of his impressive depth in squad to hand Thoi Singh, Siam Hanghal, Udanta and Keegan Pereira starts. Even Chhetri and Robin Singh, who came off the bench in the 2-0 win over Bharat FC last week, made the first XI.

But Bengaluru didn’t let conditions alter their usual attacking style of play, taking the game to Maziya early on. Playing down the right, it didn’t take long for Udanta to advertise his blistering pace that gave Maziya defender Samdhooh a harrowing time. From one of the many attacks from the right on the afternoon, Robin hit the post from a Rino Anto cross. And just as the half was drawing to an end, Maziya ’keeper Imran pulled off two saves from shots by Hanghal and Chhetri.

However for all the chances Bengaluru had, it was Maziya who shot into a lead on the hour mark after Samdhooh’s cross from the left was tapped home by Pablo Rodriguez.Refusing to let the setback deflate them, Bengaluru began building up play as Westwood threw in Sean Rooney and Eugeneson Lyngdoh for Hanghal and Thoi in the 65th minute. 

While Rooney’s cross earned Bengaluru the penalty that led to the equaliser, the winner was a delightful team goal. Picked out by Rooney and on the edge of the box, Udanta lobbed the travelling ball first-time after spotting Chhetri’s run in the box. The skipper volleyed home a perfect finish, capping off an important win.

Maziya could have got an equaliser of their own but Rodriguez’s header came off the bar five minutes from time. Lyngdoh then came close to getting Bengaluru’s third two minutes from time but his shot was kept out by Imran.

[Event] Blues Cup - Corporate Football Tournament

The first edition of the Blues Cup corporate football tournament will be played at the Play Arena, Bellandur on May 16, 2015. 

Contact details are provided here... 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bengaluru keen to make a point

Bengaluru FC Media 

A confident and in-form Bengaluru FC take on Maziya Sports & Recreation Club at the National Football Stadium, in Maldives, on Tuesday, knowing that a point will be enough to send the current Indian champions through to the pre-quarterfinal stages of the AFC Cup.

The Blues sit second on the Group E table with 9 points from four games, five points more than third-placed Maziya who have played an equal number of games. Indonesian team Persipura Jayapura have already booked a berth to the last-16 while Singapore's Warriors FC have already been eliminated.

But while a draw on Tuesday would suit Bengaluru just fine, coach Ashley Westwood said his team would be going for the win keeping in mind the bigger picture of coming out as group leaders. "Winning the group is something we want to do because it means we get a favourable draw in the next round. So, we will be trying to win the game against Maziya as we will against Persipura. We are a new club and fresh in this tournament so we want to win as many games as we can and make a name for ourselves. We will be approaching tomorrow's game in a positive manner which is something that you are always guaranteed from us," said Westwood while addressing the press on the eve of the fixture.

Shankar Sampingiraj scored a dramatic injury-time winner when Maziya came to Bengaluru in a game that ended 2-1 and while Westwood says his side were confident, they aren't taking anything for granted. "When I say we are confident, it's confidence in our own abilities, not about winning the game. You can never guarantee a result in football. Maziya are a good side and we are expecting a very tough game."

Bengaluru registered their first away win in Asian competitions, putting on a stellar performance in a 1-0 defeat of Warriors in Singapore while on the national league front, Westwood's boys are on an eight-game unbeaten run and will hope to carry the form into the game against the Maldivian side.

Left-back Lalchhuanmawia hasn't made the trip owing to a suspension and spare his absence, Westwood has a fully fit and available squad to choose from. In fact it will be interesting to see who Westwood starts with given the depth in squad the gaffer has owing to the performances being thrown in. The coach could afford to start Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh on the bench in the win against Bharat FC and it only goes to say much about the choices Westwood has been spoilt for.

Maziya too have a player missing in central defender Zhivko Dinev. The Bulgarian is believed to have suffered a knee injury that will keep him on the sidelines for a while.

The game kicks off at 4.30 pm IST.  

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Amateur League (TAL) - Season 2

Great news for the football aficionados of the Garden City, The Amateur League (TAL) is back! The second season of TAL kicked off with much fanfare on March 22 at the Holy Ghost Church grounds, Fraser Town.  

TAL is a Bangalore-based  11-a-side weekend football league, which is open to the amateur and professional footballers. The primary aim of TAL is to provide footballers with constant 11-a-side action throughout the year. Something that is hugely missing in Bangalore. 

TAL is created with the objective of providing all footballers a chance to experience the game at a professional standard. All teams get customized jerseys - players’ name and numbers add the league experience. Reports, photos, video highlights, and statistics all of which add to the experience of the league accompany the game-days. 

TAL Season 1 took place in the month of June last year and went on till September at BGS International Residential School. A total of 12 teams participating in a round robin format. Teams were made of up players from all walks of life - School and college students, professional footballers, expatriates, and corporate individuals, all came together to provide diverse footballing action. The inaugural season went down to the wire, with Horizons FC and Sunday FC going head-to-head on the final day to determine the winner. Sunday FC needed a win to lift the trophy but a draw ensued thereby crowning Horizons FC as the champions of the inaugural season. 

TAL Season 2 is currently underway. The new season started with more than half of the teams returning from Season 1 while a couple of teams merged to form new teams as well welcoming some new exciting teams. The quality of action in this season is going better in every round. You can catch all actions from their FaceBook page, https://www.facebook.com/TheAmateurLeague and YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/TALBangalore

With the increase of popularity and folks wanting to play in the league, TAL has decided to create Division 2, which is all set to debut in the second week of May at the same venue. 

After creating the division system created, TAL plans to introduce promotion and relegation within the league. This will help increase competitiveness. The bottom two teams of Division 1 will be relegated and the top two teams of Division 2 will be promoted. With teams signing up quickly, Division 2 has only a few spots open. Division 2 will take place on Saturdays. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bengaluru prevail over plucky Bharat FC

BengaluruFC & AIFF Media 

Eugeneson Lyngdoh and CK Vineeth scored on either side of the half as Bengaluru FC wrapped up their Pune tour with two wins from as many matches and joined Mohun Bagan at the top of the table with 28 points. 

The Blues, who only two days earlier churned out a near-flawless performance in the 2-0 defeat of Pune FC, picked up from where they left as an answer to coach Ashley Westwood’s call to reproduce a similar show if three points were to be taken.

Lyngdoh’s strike in the 29th minute came when Sean Rooney intercepted a poor pass from Surajit Bose before teeing up the ball for the midfielder, who placed a peach of a strike past ’keeper Shahinlal Meloli from 20-yards out. The goal was a striking replica of the one Lyngdoh scored in the home tie that Bengaluru won 1-0.  

Westwood started with an unchanged XI that took field in the 2-0 win against Pune FC on Tuesday while the only change on the bench was the inclusion of Robin Singh, back from serving a one-game suspension. Bharat, meanwhile, had a string of absentees owing to a combination of suspensions, injuries and a family emergency. But despite the goal, the half was an absorbing one where possession and attacks swapped hands swiftly. However, post the break was a different tale.

Ten minutes into the second half and Bengaluru struck again when CK Vineeth scored his second goal in as many games. Receiving the ball on the break and down the left, Rooney made a run before passing to Lyngdoh, in the box. Skipping the option to shoot, Lyngdoh squared the ball to Vineeth who drew Meloli out before turning and placing his shot calmly, making it 2-0.

With a two-goal cushion and Bengaluru completely in control, Westwood pulled off his goal scorers within a few minutes after the hour mark, replacing Lyngdoh and Vineeth with Robin and Sunil Chhetri. The changes added a fresh impetus to Bengaluru’s attacks and Robin came close to grabbing a brace of headers.

Midfielder Joshua Walker threw in a fantastic shift in his role ahead of the defence while the back four were clinical in stuffing out every half chance to make it two clean sheets in as many games.

Bengaluru next travel to Maldives on Sunday where they take on Maziya S&RC in a game, if they won, would send them to the pre-quarterfinal stages of the AFC Champions League.