We’re talking about two contrasting tales here. While FC Goa qualified for the AFC Champions League by topping the group stage, Bengaluru FC, by their high standards, have been eliminated from the AFC Cup at the hands of Maziya S&RC. Having reached the finals of the AFC Cup in 2016, the club will look to do better at the next attempt, but it will only depend on how they perform in the ISL next season. 


For now, let’s take a look at what went wrong for FC Goa and Bengaluru FC in the semi-finals of the ISL, as both clubs were shown the door by Chennaiyin FC and ATK respectively. 



The club had shown no intent to stop even after the departure of Spaniard Sergio Lobera. They had plundered over 2 dozen goals in their last five games, proving that they can remain at the peak of their form under newly-appointed Technical Director Derrick Pereira and Clifford Miranda. 


Chennaiyin FC and Owen Coyle, though, had other ideas. Coming back from the hallows, the Marina Machans knew they had nothing to lose. The expansive gameplay imbibed by Coyle had transformed the team and only complacency could stop them. Sadly for FC Goa, that characteristic did not creep in. 

In the first leg, FC Goa could not field their full-strength side, due to injuries. Hugo Boumous, arguably the best creator of the season in the league and Brandon Fernandes, the Indian player with the maximum number of assists, had to sit out. This dissipating strength of the midfield saw Chennaiyin run riot, as they stomped their authority at their home stadium with a 4-1 win. A classy and dominant affair. 


The second leg at the Fatorda saw Goa throw the kitchen sink at Chennaiyin. The hosts, strengthened by the early return of Boumous and Fernandes, were leading by two goals in just 22-odd minutes. An injury to Boumous saw him being replaced by Edu Bedia, which brought down Goa’s creativity by a few notches. This stopped the onrush from the home side. 


At the beginning of the second half, Chennaiyin FC latched onto some space and scored twice in a seven-minute period. This ruffled FC Goa up, and they attacked with added fervour. The Gaurs added two goals to their tally, but at the final whistle, it was a little too many for them to scale. Centre-back Mourtada Fall played out of the skin, scoring twice and playing most of the last half near the Opposition box. 

For FC Goa, it was probably down to injuries. With Fernandes and Boumous in the first leg, who knows where they would’ve stood!



After the departure of Miku Fedor, the Blues have been looking for a No. 9 the entire season. Ashique Kuruniyan was signed and expected to share the goal-scoring workload, with more contributions from Udanta Kumam as well. Both wingers failed, with Kuruniyan even dropping to left-back in several games. 


The onus, as expected, dropped on, yet again, Sunil Chhetri. The talisman did what he could, helped by some resolute defending. He scored 9 times and took most of the responsibility, single-handedly carrying the team to the semis. In the semis, Bengaluru won the first leg 1-0, helped by a goal from Deshorn Brown. The Jamaican was brought in to replace the out-on-loan Manuel Onwu, but even he could not set the stage on fire.


In the second leg, played at the iconic Yuba Bharati Krirangan and the home of ATK, Bengaluru started on the front foot and Ashique Kuruniyan got the lead in the 5th minute. ATK, though, held their nerves well. The 22-year-old winger could have earned a hattrick in the first quarter but was let down by some poor finishing. ATK believed in their quality and on the pitch, they were superior man-vs-man. 


And it showed. Slowly and steadily, they started to make inroads. They exploited the right side of the pitch, a wing dominated by the classy Prabir Das. Every time he was on the wings with the ball, Bengaluru were threatened. They did not have an outlet up top, and the speed of Udanta Singh was compromised to add steel to the backline. The team missed a forward like they did the entire season. 


With a better No. 9, the workload on Sunil Chhetri would have been less and the No. 11 could have had a better effect. Also, the conversion of chances, too, could have been better. The team’s confidence looked shaken. Bengaluru FC need a jig, and it’s internal. They have enough capability and quality to bounce back, but their Indian contingent needs to take more responsibility and deliver.


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