By Sruti Chakraborty,
AIFF Media Team
NEW DELHI: FC Bengaluru United are some three years old, and with them coming up their ranks thick and fast having won their maiden BDFA Super Division this season, they have currently set their eyes on the forthcoming Hero I-League qualifiers which are to kick-off in Bengaluru from October 4 onwards.
If they succeed, they will become the 3rd club from the Garden City after HAL and Bengaluru FC to make it to the Hero I-League while ITI played in the NFL. Moreover, with the championship all set to kick-off in their own den – the Bangalore Football Stadium – they look desperate. However, owing to covid protocol and with the Qualifiers having been hosted under a secured bio bubble, they won’t be having their fans cheering from the stands.
Head Coach Richard Hood, and former Blue Tigers skippers Gouramangi Singh, currently Assistant Coach of the FCBU have helped the team improve gradually since their third-place finish in the points table last edition.
“Home advantage has a lot of underlying factors to make it click — like local crowd support, lesser travel which are now equal for all teams coming in. We cannot ignore that our club has played all of their BDFA games here in the last three years, and have competed here more than any other team at the qualifiers,” Richard, who has been at the helm of the club since its inception, said.
“More than anything the territoriality that gets triggered of being a club from our city, a club named after our city when added to our ambition and intent of winning the qualifiers will be a strong factor driving our performances,” he expressed.
They have had some really serious enforcements this time around before the Durand Cup in order to achieve the target. “This pre-season is about establishing a winning culture and environment, and to take that mindset to the prestigious Durand Cup has been immense. After two months of pre-season, we needed real games with real consequences which, at the Durand, had generated a great deal of insight as where we stand as a team, as units and individually exactly,” Richard sounded positive while speaking to www.i-league.org
The onus will be on the Spaniard forward Pedro Manzi who had guided Chennai City FC to win their maiden Hero I-League title in 2018-19 scoring 21 goals in the process. Much to the woes of the rivals, he continued his scoring spree for Mohammedan SC last season, and even a few overseas clubs before coming back to emboss his authority once again in India.
The club has also bolstered the attacking third with former Churchill Brothers FC Goa forward Luka Majcen. The Slovenian struck eleven times in the last edition of Hero I-League and on his day, he can break any defence.
Dharmaraj Ravanan, the astute defender who dons the armband for the team in the ongoing Durand Cup, feels the club has the potential to win the Hero I-League qualifiers.
“My target is to help the team become 2nd division champions. That’s what the club and the players want — it is our only target. We are united, and working very hard to achieve our goal,” Ravanan maintained.
While Former Blue Tiger Sanju Pradhan will instil some vigour upfront, former Hero I-League and Hero Indian Super League winner Kingshuk Debnath will also add much-needed composure in the defence.
Ravannan added: “Everyone in the club is learning and growing every day. I think joining FC Bengaluru United was an opportunity for me to do what I love. When they called me, I said yes right away. I think it was my best decision. I am enjoying my time here, learning & growing every day with the club.”