ISL 2019-20: Bengaluru FC begin title defence against NorthEast United at home

Sports News, State, (Bengaluru), October 21:-Boasting of five India internationals in their ranks, including talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri, a formidable Bengaluru FC will begin their quest for title defence when they take on NorthEast United in their opening Indian Super League match here on Monday.

The Bengaluru-based side have been synonymous with consistency in India domestic football history. After three years of success in the I-League, they joined ISL in 2017 and made an instant impact.

Guided by Spanish coach Albert Roca, they put up a splendid show in their first season and topped the league phase standings though they suffered a heartbreaking loss in the final to Chennaiyin FC at home.

The next season (2018), Bengaluru had Roca’s protege Carles Cuadrat under whom they defeated FC Goa to clinch their maiden ISL title.

With a clutch of new signings and retention of key players, particularly domestic, Bengaluru look set to dominate again this season. They roped in India midfielder Ashique Kuruniyan this season.

With an all-Indian attacking line-up of Chhetri, Udanta Singh and now Kuruniyan, the defending champions look formidable on paper.

There were five Bengaluru FC players in Igor Stimac’s starting XI that played the first two World Cup qualifiers with captain Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Udanta, Rahul Bheke and Kuruniyan playing a significant role.

The Blues have added striker Manuel Onwu of Spain, who will have the unenviable task of replacing the prolific Miku, who has left the side.

Beangaluru FC registered a come-from-behind win against NorthEast United in the two-legged playoff en route the final last season. But it will not be easy for the home side to beat NorthEast United on Monday.

Bengaluru head coach Cuadrat said it’s “strange” that none of the teams have been able to retain their title in the ISL.

“My team is still young and I am still trying to influence my philosophy on them. This is my first season with this team. There are new players, so it is going to be difficult and we need time.

-(NAV, Inputs: Agencies)

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