Thu, 28 Sep 2023

New Delhi [India], September 17 (ANI): Bengaluru FC fell a step short of clinching the Indian Super League (ISL) Cup last year as they lost to Mohun Bagan Super Giant on penalties in the final. Under head coach Simon Grayson, the Blues reached the finals of the Super Cup and Durand Cup last season apart from the title clash in the ISLCup.

Bengaluru FC has been one of the most successful clubs in Indian football since its inception in 2013 and has developed a winning culture at the club clinching I-League titles, the Federation Cup and the Super Cup before winning the ISL Cup in 2018-19, as per an ISL press release.

This year, Bengaluru FC will be looking to win the ISL Cup, which they missed by inches last year and also have a shot at the ISL League Shield. Grayson's men will leave no stone unturned to complete their unfinished business.

Bengaluru FC has always been a top contender for the ISL Cup since their participation season in 2017. In their first-ever ISL season, BFC reached the final but lost 3-2 to Chennaiyin FC in a five-goal thriller at Sree Kanteerava Stadium.

Next season, Bengaluru FC again made it to the final and completed their journey by clinching the ISL Cup by defeating FC Goa by a scoreline of 1-0. With a group that included players like Sunil Chhetri, Miku, Dimas Delgado, and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, BFC continued their dream run in that phase. In the 2019-20 season, the Blues also qualified for the playoffs but could not cross the semi-final hurdle.

However, in the next two seasons, their performance levels dropped. They finished in seventh and sixth place in the next two seasons respectively. Lack of consistency was the main issue for the Blues at that time.

But BFC soon overcame this period and found their rhythm with Grayson. The Englishman guided them to their third final after finishing the group stage in fourth place. They lost the final on penalties in a highly intense, thrilling match against Mohun Bagan Super Giant.

Team Composition and Transfer DealingsThe Blues have made some changes to their squad in comparison to last season. They have let go of their very own Udanta Singh and also let the door open for Sandesh Jhingan and Roy Krishna.

"Letting go of Sandesh was not an easy task for us, but he got a better offer from FC Goa. But we have some promising young talents in the team who will surely look forward to leaving a mark under the guidance of their senior teammates," said Grayson.

To fill the void, Bengaluru FC has brought in versatile midfielder Keziah Veendorp, experienced striker Curtis Main, and skilled winger Ryan Williams. BFC has also bolstered their attacking line with the inclusion of Rohit Danu and Halicharan Narzary.

Transfers: InsKeziah Veendorp, Ryan Williams, Jessel Carneiro, Shankar Sampingiraj, Curtis Main, Salam Johnson Singh, Rohit Danu, Slavko Damjanovic, Vikram Singh, and Halicharan Narzary.

OutsAjay Chhetri, Edmund Lalrindika, Lara Sharma, Thoi Singh, Wungngayam Muirang, Jayesh Rane, Harmanpreet Singh, Sharon Padattil, Leon Augustine, Sandesh Jhingan, Prabir Das, Roy Krishna, Bruno Ramires, and Udanta Singh.

Key Players-Keziah Veendorp:Keziah Veendorp joins Bengaluru FC from Eredivisie (the Netherlands top-tier football league) side FC Emmen. The 26-year-old Dutch youth international has represented the Netherlands national team in age-group tournaments.

The 6'2"-tall defender brings a formidable presence to the team's defensive lineup by serving as a vital link between the defence and midfield, facilitating smooth transitions, and initiating attacking moves. Veendorp is strong, hardworking, and impactful at the centre of the park. His positional awareness, accurate passing ability, and versatility will be helpful for the Blues.

-Curtis Main:Bengaluru FC unveiled Main as their second foreign signing for the upcoming season. Main's versatility, aerial strength, physicality, and game awareness make him perfectly suited for Bengaluru. If Main can deliver according to his potential, then the Blues will have a phenomenal option for their striking force.

The 31-year-old England-born forward started his professional career with League Two side Darlington FC. In 2011, he made the move to EFL Championship club Middlesbrough, where he spent three years before joining Doncaster Rovers in League One in 2014. Later, he played for Portsmouth, Motherwell FC, Aberdeen FC, Shrewsbury, and St. Mirren.

-FixturesThe inaugural match of the brand-new season at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi will be a repeat of ISL 2022-23's playoff match where Bengaluru FC knocked out Kerala Blasters FC on September 21. Later, Bengaluru FC will play against Mohun Bagan Super Giant on September 27 and East Bengal FC on October 4.

BFC will face NorthEast United FC at home on December 24 in their last game of 2023. (ANI)

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