Road to the final – Bengaluru FC

Highlights – Abahani Limited Dhaka vs 4.25 SC

Bengaluru are aiming to become the first Indian side to win a continental competition when they take on Air Force Club of Iraq in the final of the AFC Cup.

The group stages

Bengaluru qualified for the AFC Cup after winning the 2014-2015 Indian Federations Cup.

Things didn’t start well with a 2-1 loss away to Lao Toyota and a home defeat to their eventual semi-final opponents JDT.

Bengaluru got their campaign back on track in the next game, when skipper Sunil Chettri bagged the winner in a 1-0 win on the road at Ayeyawady United of Myanmar.

A comfortable 5-3 home win over Ayeyawady thanks to a brace from Alwyn George was followed by another win at home to Lao Toyota. A third loss, again to JDT saw Bengaluru qualify for the knockout stage with three wins and nine points from their six matches.

The round of 16

A tough away tie to Hong Kong’s Kitchee was the reward for second place, but Bengaluru pulled off a shock with a come-from-behind win thanks to two more goals from talismanic captain Chhetri.

The win in Hong Kong was the last game in charge for coach Ashley Westwood, who left the club a week later by mutual consent to be replaced by former Barcelona assistant Albert Roca.

The quarterfinals

The Indian side faced Singapore’s Tampines Rovers in the quarterfinals, and with a new manager, several new players and no competitive games since May, many fancied Rovers to advance.

The first leg was played in an empty Sree Kanteerava Stadium after local authorities enforced a curfew because of civil unrest, but it was the home side who looked the more fluent, grabbing an early goal through Vineeth in just the seventh minute.

That goal was to prove the winning strike as Tampines failed to make much of an impact on a strong home defence during the rest of the match.

It was a similar story in Singapore, for try as they might, Tampines could not find a goal despite having the majority of the ball and putting Bengaluru under pressure throughout the match. The Indian side held firm to grab a 0-0 draw and progress to the semifinals, where they will face a JDT side that has already beaten them twice in the group stage.

The semifinals

Drawn against defending champions JDT in the semi, many expected Albert Roca’s side to be swept aside, but after a Eugeneson Lyngdoh stunner saw them claim a 1-1 draw at fortress Larkin in the away leg, Sunil Chhetri’s two goals in a 3-1 win saw Bengaluru become the first ever Indian side to make a continental cup final.

Bengaluru FC club history

Formed just three years ago in 2013, Bengaluru made an immediate impact on the domestic football scene, winning the I-League in their very season and repeating the feat earlier this year after finishing runners up in the previous year.

A first foray into continental competition saw them reach the last 16 of the AFC Cup in 2015, finishing second in their group before going out to South China in the first knockout round after a 2-0 loss.

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