Since the start of the Indian Super League, the club football scenario has had new characters. Bengaluru FC probably impressed the most out of all. Actually, the club is a year older than the league. The Blues had already won the national league (I-League) by the time ISL was inaugurated.
Last season was a fairytale. The season started with the Durand Cup triumph. But it wasn’t until the start of 2023 that Simon Grayson’s Bengaluru FC picked pace. The team went on to the final only to lose out to ATK Mohun Bagan. But the run that was!
Preseason and Durand Cup
Bengaluru FC decided to send their reserve team to the Durand Cup. Of course, they impressed. They drew against Kerala Blasters and defeated Gokulam Kerala.
What’s at stake?
The tenth season of the Indian Super League promises to be a spectacle with a large pool of competition from all around the league. The club is also celebrating its tenth anniversary in Indian Football, to embark which they brought back their first-ever home kit as the official one for the season. For a club with a sense of winning, silverware must be in sight.
Ins: Halicharan Narzary, Rohit Danu, Slavko Damjanovic, Salam Johnson Singh, Curtis Main, Shankar Shampingiraj, Jessel Carneiro, Ryan Williams, Keziah Veendorp
Outs: Udanta Singh, Thoi Singh, Lara Sharma, Wungngayam Muirang, Harmanpreet Singh, Pablo Perez, Leon Augustine, Roy Krishna, Bidyashagar Singh, Sandesh Jhinghan, Prabir Das, Bruno Ramires, Sharon P, Prince Ibarra, Damait Lyngdoh, Biswa Darjee, Edmund Lalrindika (Loan), Jayesh Rane (Loan)
Few notable names have left the club after such a fruitful season. The strike force is going to have new names in Ryan Williams and Curtis Main. Danu and Narzary are going to provide options outwide. Shampingiraj is returning to the club after a long time. Apart from Sunil Chhetri, he is the only other active player from the 2013-14 I-League winning squad to be at the club ten years on.
Strengths and Weakness
The biggest strength of the team is still going to be Javi Hernandez. Bengaluru FC waited for a player like him to come around for a long time. Now that he is finally here, the team is going to be built around him. Last season, he was at the center of every action.
Siva Sakthi had a brilliant understanding with the veterans Sunil Chhetri and Roy Krishna. Apparently, his performance has dipped since his injury in the ISL 2022-23 final. In the meantime, Chhetri had a fantastic time with the national team. The 39-year-old is okay with a substitute role as it promotes someone like Siva to display his absolute best. The youngster was the club’s highest goalscorer last season. With Sunil Chhetri out for Asian Games duty, Siva will have the mantle for that.
One can’t ignore an outgoing like Jhinghan. The centre-back was a made-to-order signing by the club when he joined ahead of the previous season. His departure is going to leave a big hole at the heart of the defence.
However, the Blues have announced Slavko Damjanovic who shows solid calibre wherever he plays. The Montenegrin played a massive role in ATK Mohun Bagan’s success last season as a January signing.
New signings like Williams, Main, and Veendorp would be subject to judgement whether they run or flop.
Bengaluru FC Predicted XI
Youngsters to watch out for
There is a fair few amount of players that qualify for this segment but Robin Yadav has grabbed the most number of headlines amongst them. The versatile player captained the Karnataka side that lifted the Santosh Trophy at the King Fahd Stadium. He scored a brilliant free kick in the final. With the departure of Jhinghan, only Parag Shrivas is left as a senior Indian centre-back. Jessel can play in three-at-the-back. Citing the situation, Robin also has the highest chance of cementing himself in the team.
In addition to Robin, another one to keep an eye on is Salam Johnson Singh, the 21-year-old forward who made the move from TRAU to Bengaluru earlier this year. Salam impressed in the previous season of the I-League by netting five goals and contributing with an assist, and he has already found the back of the net for his new team in the Durand Cup. Furthermore, he was also awarded the Emerging Player of the Year in the I-League. After a fine season with TRAU, Salam will now hope to replicate the same under Simon Grayson.
The team should compete for a top-six finish. That’s the verdict at least for now.
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