mo4ch:> Underdog Stories: Debutant Bengaluru FC's I-League win in 2013-14 was a mission executed to perfection by Ashley Westwood | Mo4ch News - Mo4ch News


Monday, April 13, 2020

mo4ch:> Underdog Stories: Debutant Bengaluru FC's I-League win in 2013-14 was a mission executed to perfection by Ashley Westwood | Mo4ch News

The Blues sent tremors across the Indian football fraternity by lifting the I-League title in their very first attempt...

On July 20, 2013, a new club backed by the JSW Group from the garden city of Bengaluru set foot in the domestic footballing landscape.

They had won the bidding rights and the All India Football Federation (AIFF) had given them a three-year immunity from getting relegated, after the steel magnate agreed upon investing and improving football infrastructure, in return.

Bengaluru FC's entry meant top tier football returned to the silicon capital of India after HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) were relegated in 2011-12 season.

CEO Parth Jindal announced that a certain Manchester United Youth Graduate, in Ashley Westwood, who has hung his boots just over two years ago and with limited coaching experience has been roped in as the coach. While most pundits opined that the young British manager will be out of his depth against experienced coaches like Karim Bencharifa, Armando Colaco to name a few, the British tactician did not take long to prove that he meant business. More importantly, he did not shy away from taking tough decisions as he went about his methods.

"Every single player at this club will be treated in the exact same manner, be it foreigner or Indian. We have no superstars at this club, everybody will be treated exactly the same for me. I am a fair and honest person. I treat everybody on the merit," he had told Goal in his interaction after taking up the job. 

The message was clearly written on the wall; either perform or perish. 

The team management backed their coach to the hilt by signing quality foreign players, those who would forge together to form a formidable squad, ready to take on the heavyweight like the Kolkata giants and the Goan clubs. In John Jonson, they captured a defender who has represented Middlesborough in the Premier League. Curtis Osano, a Reading academy product, joined and he was followed by Johnny Menyongar, a sturdy midfielder who had moved from Shillong Lajong. Sean Rooney, who had earlier played for Salgaocar, also moved to the club.

But their Indian contingent, apart from Sunil Chhetri, had a lot of relatively unknown players and were yet to make a name for themselves. The likes of Rino Anto, NS Manju, Keegan Perera, Thoi Singh, Siam Hanghal and goalkeeper Pawan Kumar were some of the regulars of that squad. Though none of them were huge names, Westwood managed to turn them into a winning unit.

On September 22, the Blues played their first official match against Mohun Bagan at the Bangalore Football Stadium. At their home turf, the debutants proved to be a tough nut to crack. Rooney scored the first official goal for Bengaluru FC and put the hosts ahead after play resumed in the second half. They had almost managed to upset Bagan, but an injury-time equaliser from CS Sabeeth helped the Mariners escape without a red face. 

Bengaluru FC Celebration Dempo SC vs Bengaluru FC I-League

They won all their next four matches at home and surprised everyone with their pragmatic approach. Westwood had built a unit which knew how to churn out a result and more importantly, dared to take the game to the opposition irrespective of their past honours and legacy. 

They defeated Mohamedan Sporting 2-1 and thrashed Dempo 3-1 in successive matches with Rooney scoring five in as many games.

After enjoying home comforts for over almost a month, Westwood's men had to spend a lengthy stretch playing away. In their very first match in Kalyani, against East Bengal, they fell to a 2-0 defeat. Suddenly the Midas touch was gone and Bengaluru picked up only two points in their next four matches. 

On November 26, they faced Salgaocar in Margao and much to the disappointment of the local fans, they stunned the hosts 2-1. Menyongar put in a brilliant shift in midfield and even scored to help his team get back on winning track. 

After this match, there was no looking back. They won all the matches, barring a 2-0 loss to East Bengal, till December and finished the year on the top spot with 30 points from 15 matches. 

After Rooney's exploits in the opening matches, it was time for Chhetri to step up his game. His partnership with Rooney kept blooming with each passing game and the skipper had already scored nine goals at the halfway stage of the league. 

On matchday 18, they completed the double over Churchill Brothers with Chhetri bagging two goals. Johnson and Osano played a remarkable game at the back with Churchill's strikers struggling for space throughout.

Apart from a shock 3-0 loss to Shillong Lajong and a draw with Pune FC, Bengaluru picked up full points from their last seven fixtures. East Bengal tried hard with a final push but was not enough to recover from the poor start to their campaign and Bengaluru won the title with a match to spare. 

Siam Hanghal and Beikhokhei Beingaichho were consistent performers and they were ably supported by Menyongar, who played every single minute of the campaign. The Liberian was deployed in a box-to-box role and his ability to break up opposition attack handed Bengaluru the upper hand at the centre of the park in most matches. 

Bengaluru had got an average group of players but showed patience with Westwood during the rough patch. It was the Englishman who first deployed Chhetri on the left and showed that the skipper can be equally lethal from the wide areas. He instilled a mentality that helped them dig deep and overcome any adversary that befell them through the course of the league.  No wonder Westwood was adjudged the best coach of the season by the Football Player's Association of India for his heroics in I-League

Source : Football News, Live Scores, Results & Transfers |

Underdog Stories: Debutant Bengaluru FC's I-League win in 2013-14 was a mission executed to perfection by Ashley Westwood

Underdog Stories: Debutant Bengaluru FC's I-League win in 2013-14 was a mission executed to perfection by Ashley Westwood