Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Lyngdoh strike gives Bengaluru big advantage in semifinal

Bengaluru FC Media 

A familiar moment of magic from Eugeneson Lyngdoh set the Blues up nicely for a return leg of the AFC Cup semifinal after the midfielder’s equaliser in the 56th minute gave Bengaluru FC a 1-1 draw against reigning champions Johor Darul Ta’zim at a packed Larkin Stadium, in Malaysia, on Wednesday.

A resolute Bengaluru defence conceded early in the second half but Lyngdoh brought the Blues back to life four minutes later and more importantly, gave them a vital away goal to take back home to Bengaluru as the Indian champions ready for the second-leg at the Kanteerava on October 19.

Refusing to sit back and soak in the pressure as most would have expected them to do at the Larkin, the Blues began rather confidently, enjoying a better share of the possession and even creating a couple of half chances early on through Sunil Chhetri and CK Vineeth. Eugeneson Lyngdoh too came close in the 30th minute but his attempt to place the ball past ’keeper Mohd. Izham lacked sting and direction.

The hosts slowly gained a foothold in the exchanges and it took a brilliant save from Amrinder at point-blank range to deny Juan Lucero a headed opener. The Blues shot-stopper literally pulled the ball out before it crossed the goal line with what was easily the save of the game.

JDT had another big chance in the 37th minute when Mohd. Azinee decided to finish off his run with a strike that he should have put away only to shoot wide. Amrinder wasn’t done yet when he made himself big to keep out a strike from Lucero in the 44th minute.

But it was Lucero’s fellow Argentine striker Diaz who finally broke Amrinder when he nodded home a Safiq Rahim corner from close in the 52nd minute. It was important that Blues didn’t let their shoulders drop as they picked themselves up and were rewarded courtesy another moment of magic from Lyngdoh at the Larkin, just four minutes later. With the ball at his feet and no one challenging him, Lyngdoh let fly a strike with his left from 30 yards out, beating Izham all ends up and silencing the home crowd.

Earlier Roca rung in just one change from the team that drew 0-0 in Singapore last week, bringing in Salam Ranjan for Nishu Kumar as the Blues stacked up in a fluid 3-5-2 set-up. The hosts will be missing both Lucero and Diaz for the second leg after the strike pair picked up their second bookings in the knock-out stages.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bengaluru keen to mount strong challenge against Johor

Bengaluru FC Media

Albert Roca has called on his Bengaluru FC side to stand up to the challenge of what will be their sternest test yet when they take on reigning champions Johor Darul Ta’zim in the first leg of the AFC Cup semifinal at the Larkin Stadium, in Malaysia, on Wednesday.

The Blues will be up against a dominant JDT side that only last week claimed their third Malaysian League title in a row – a feat they achieved without losing a game. Earlier in the season the Malaysian team won the FA Cup and the Charity Shield to make it three trophies in 2016 for the Mario Gomez-coached side.

“We know everything about the opponent. They deserve to be here and are a very strong rival. We are not scared about that. For us, it’s a nice challenge and the aim is to put on a performance,” said Roca while addressing the press on Tuesday.

Johor are part of Bengaluru’s history in continental football by being the Blues’ first ever opponents in AFC competition when the two teams battled it out in the ACL qualifier at the Larkin Stadium early in 2015. The Malaysian team didn’t progress in the Champions League but went on to win the AFC Cup while Bengaluru bowed out at the Round-of-16 stage. This season the two sides met again, after being drawn in Group H with Johor winning both legs of the league stages to finish top of the table while Bengaluru qualified to the knock-out stages by finishing second.

But much has changed for the Indian champions since then, who brought on Spanish coach Roca and shuffled the player roster too. “Yes, we haven’t beaten Johor yet but we’ve had two very close games and we can take positives from that. We are a stronger team now than when we last played them. We have a new coach, new systems, a few new players and it’s all coming together. We go into every game wanting to score and win and tomorrow will be no different,” said defender John Johnson who has been with the Blues for three seasons now.

An interesting sub-plot to the game will be the battle between Bengaluru’s defence and Johor’s free-scoring Argentine strikers Martin Lucero and Pereyra Diaz.  Meanwhile, in attack, Bengaluru will look to be a lot more clinical in front of goal than they have been over the last two games.

Having progressed after playing out a 0-0 draw (1-0 aggregate) against Tampines Rovers in Singapore last week, the Blues chose to stay back and took a bus across the border to Johor, on Sunday. However, they will still be without Udanta Singh, Lalchhuanmawia and Keegan Pereira (injury and illness). 

“We do have a few injuries and unfortunately, those players cannot participate. But that is not an excuse as we have a good squad and we have to prove it tomorrow,” said Roca. 

The semifinal will be only Roca’s third competitive game since taking charge but he was confident of the way the team has been responding to the change. “We have tried to create a new philosophy and our team is improving. We are inching closer to the way we want to play. We know our limits, but we know we cannot sleep and we have to keep progressing as a team.” 

The game kicks off at 6.15 pm IST. 

Friday, September 23, 2016

U-16 Youth League to kick-off from tomorrow

AIFF Media 

55 Teams from all over the country will ply their trade in the U-16 Youth League which is slated to kick-off on Tomorrow, September 24, in Kolkata and Shillong simultaneously. 

Youth Teams from all Hero I-League Clubs and two Teams from Hero ISL Clubs along with many an Academy will be fielding their Teams for the top honours across 10 zones. 

Ozone Football, Roots Football, and Boca Juniors are the teams representing from the Garden City and will be playing in the Bangalore-Chennai zone. 

The League, which commenced last season as the U-15 Youth League, has been refurbished as the U-16 Youth League keeping an eye on the forthcoming FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017.

Sunando Dhar, CEO, I-League said the increase in the numbers highlights the “urge among the Clubs to perform.”

“The numbers speak. 55 Teams are participating in the U-16 Youth League which is Indeed remarkable. It proves the urge among Clubs and Academies to prove their mettle,” he told

"I wish success to all the participating Teams. The competition will be intense and may the best Team triumph,” he added.

The teams from every zone will play on a home-away basis among themselves in the round robin stage and 16 teams will qualify to the National Final Round eventually. Those sixteen teams will be divided into four groups and the group champions will qualify for the semi-final which will be followed by the final to decide the U-16 Youth League 2016-17 champions.

Royal Wahingdoh FC will face Rangdajied United FC at the Mawlai Ground in the opener (September 24) while Mohammedan Sporting FC will lock their horns with United Sporting Club at the Mohammedan Sporting Ground the same day.

Minerva Academy FC, champions from the last edition have been clubbed with Youngsters Club, Lonestar Kashmir, Real Kashmir and J&K Bank. 

1. Kolkata 
2. Maharashtra 
3. Bangalore-Chennai 
4. Shillong-Guwahati 
5. Kerala
6. Delhi 
7. Rest of India (I) 
8. Rest of India (II)
9. Rest of India (III) 
10. Rest of India (IV)

Mohun Bagan 
East Bengal 
Mohammedan Sporting 
SAI Kolkata
Southern Samity 
United Sports Club
DSK Shivajians 
Mumbai FC 
Young Champs
Steadfast FC 
Football School of India 
FC Pune City 
Ozone Football 
Mahogany FC 
Boca Juniors 
Roots Football 
Shillong Lajong 
SAI Guwahati
Royal Wahingdoh 
Rangdajied United
Gauhati Town Club 
Kovalam FC 
Red Star FC 
Bhaichung Bhutia Football School 
Concient FC 
Sudeva FC
Real Sports
Delhi United
SAI Delhi 
Delhi Dynamos 
Hindustan FC 
Neroca FC 
Aizawl FC 
Tata Football Academy 
SAIL Bokaro 
Sporting Clube de Goa
Salgaocar FC 
Bengaluru FC 
Youngsters Club 
Real Kashmir 
Lonestar Kashmir 
J&K Bank 
Minerva Academy FC 
Kahaani FC 
Anantpur Football 
Fateh Hyderabad 
Pride Sports 
Sports Authority of Gujarat

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bengaluru FC script history, march into AFC Cup semifinal

Bengaluru FC Media 
AFC Media 

Bengaluru FC added a special page in their short but successful history after a 0-0 (1-0 aggregate)draw against Tampines Rovers at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Wednesday night was enough to send them to the semifinal of the AFC Cup. The game that had way more than its fair share of drama with both teams creating chances aplenty, was seen through by Albert Roca’s boys who took control of things in a strong second half show.

The win over two legs set up a semifinal date with familiar foes and Cup holders Johor Darul Ta’zim of Malaysia, where the Blues will travel to for the first leg on September 28 at the Larkin Stadium.

Coming into the game with a 1-0 result in the home leg, Roca decided to go with an unchanged starting XI. The bench, however, had two changes with Beikhokhei Beingaichho and Gursimrat Gill coming in place of Udanta Singh and Lalchhuanmawia who missed the trip with injuries.

Bengaluru’s best chance came in the 38th minute when a freekick variation caught the Tampines defence unawares but a sliding Eugeneson Lyngdoh couldn’t get his foot to what was a delicious pass across the face of the goal from CK Vineeth.

Only a minute later, Jermain Pennant fluffed his lines from inside the box when the former Arsenal man when he lobbed a half-hearted strike over the Blues’ goal. Earlier, Tampines’ Muhammad Hafiz came close to giving the hosts a lead when he intercepted a poor pass from Nishu Kumar and set off on a free run before his strike drew a save from Amrinder Singh.

The Blues got off to a bright start in the second half and Chhetri could have handed them a vital lead in the 48th minute when he lost a defender in the box before shooting, only for Mohamad Izwan to make a save.

A far cry from the frantic first half that saw them give away possession rather cheaply, the Blues turned up with a far more controlled show that saw them string passes and hold possession for long spells in the game.

Needing a goal to keep their hopes alive and take the game to extra-time, Tampines pressed high up and came close on a few occasions through Jordan Webb and Muhammad Hafiz. But the Bengaluru defence refused to press the panic button, making vital steals and patiently building up the game from the back. In the 77th minute Chhetri and Eugeneson exchanged a smart one-two but the latter’s shot lacked the sting it needed.

The Blues should have surely put the game to bed in the third of the five minutes of additional time but late substitute Vishal Kumar’s fierce strike was kept out by Izwan and Eugeneson’s follow-up strike ricocheted off the post with the ’keeper well beaten.

But none of the missed chances would come back to bite the Indian champions who joined Dempo SC and East Bengal to become only the third club from India to make it this far in the competition.