Debutant Bengaluru eye maiden ISL title

Debutant Bengaluru eye maiden ISL title
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Sunil Chhetri of Bengaluru FC with team members thank Bengaluru FC fans after their win during the first semi final 2nd leg of the Hero Indian Super League between Bengaluru FC and FC Pune City held at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru, India on the 11th March 2018 Photo by: Faheem Hussain / ISL / SPORTZPICS

Bengaluru (Karnataka): Bengaluru FC’s impressive record of winning a major trophy in each of their five seasons will be put to the test when they face Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) final.

Having won either the I-League or Federation Cup in each of their last four seasons, Bengaluru is just a step away from winning the ISL title on debut.

They have netted 35 goals and have finished on top of the league, garnering a league-high of 13 wins in the process.

Moreover, they qualified for the playoffs with four games to spare and were eight points clear of second-placed Chennaiyin FC.

Much of that credit has to go to the make-up of their squad which has experienced players in key positions.

“We have players who have played AFC Cup semifinals, finals, Federation Cup finals. The intention is to go out there and do our best,” said Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca.

Roca’s first choice of playing XI has seasoned players.

Right from goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, a seasoned international with European experience, to the forward line which boasts of the likes of Sunil Chhetri and Miku, experience seeps through the team.

Miku, a Valencia youth product, has featured extensively in the La Liga. The 32-year-old was even named the La Liga Player of the Month for February 2016.

Even Udanta Singh, though just 21, is an established international and has already played four seasons of top-tier football.

Chhetri feels that they would want to take this as just another game and not think too much of the final.

“We don’t want to consider the fact that it is a final, to put any pressure on us. We have been consistent in all areas of the game, but having said that, we still have so much to improve upon. It’s important that we put our best foot forward,” said Chhetri.

In midfield, Spaniard Dimas Delgado (35) and Aussie Erik Paartalu (31) have both proved themselves in the A-League while the defence is helmed by John Johnson (29) who has been at Bengaluru since their inception and has played a big role in their two I-League triumphs and 2016 AFC Cup final run.

Juanan (30), the other rock in Bengaluru’s defence, boasts of experience in Real Madrid B team. Recreativo Huelva among others has won cup honours in Hungary before landing in India.

Harmanjot Khabra (29) has won the ISL before with Chennaiyin FC. Lenny Rodrigues has been playing in India’s top-tier for a while now and has won the I-League with Churchill Brothers.

Rahul Bheke (27) is a seasoned ISL player now, turning out for the likes of Kerala Blasters and FC Pune City in previous seasons.

Bengaluru FC will take Chennaiyin FC at Sree Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday. (ANI)