New :Indian football club Bengaluru FC lost the grand finale of the AFC Cup to Air Force Club of Iraq played at the Qatar Sports Club Stadium on Sunday.
The loss in the summit clash meant that the Bangalore based club dint become the first Indian football club to win an Asian title here today.
I-League champions Bengaluru have already become the first Indian to qualify for the final of the AFC Cup, a second tier club competition in Asia, but they were chasing for a bigger glory and unprecedented continental title, but in the end were beaten by a superior side at Qatar Sports Club Stadium on Sunday.
Bengaluru were simply outplayed by Air Force Club, despite a seizable expatriate crowd egging on them at the stadium and lot of support from the sports fraternity at home, as they got very few scoring chances while the Iraqi side had several of them, especially in the second half and the closing stages of the match.
Star striker Hammadi Ahmed Abdullah, who has scored 15 goals in the 11 matches Air Force Club played before today in the tournament, netted the match-winner in the 71st minute to give his side their maiden AFC Cup title and break the Indians’ heart.
This was the first time an Iraqi side won the AFC Cup title after Erbil Club finished runners-up twice in 2012 and 2014.
Despite the loss and heartbreak, Bengaluru will return home with their heads held high as they set a benchmark for Indian clubs by reaching thus far. Before them, only two clubs Dempo in 2008 and East Bengal in 2013 had reached the semifinals of the AFC Cup.
Bengaluru and Air Force Club were locked in a goal-less stalemate at half time with the Iraqi side dominating possession and the Indian club defending their citadel resolutely. But the barrage of attacks from Air Force Club was to bear fruit at some stage and it happened in the 71st
Bengaluru FC head coach Albert Roca made just one changeto his team which started against Johor Darul Ta’zim in the semifinals with Lalthuamawia Ralte replacing suspended Amrinder Singh at the goal.