My hands are trembling to the extent where I have retyped each word. Well, not each word. An enthralling game, a massive crowd and an alcohol dependency will do that to you I suppose. I’m writing this on the back of the best game of football witnessed at the Bengaluru stadium ever! The atmosphere was off the hook! Walking into the stadium along with thousands of fellow supporters was an experience in itself. The camaraderie was unmissable. Looking around the stadium, I saw hordes of people wearing the JSW jersey and it was evident that everyone around that place had only one thing on their mind.
Right. So onto the game itself. The starting eleven was fairly straightforward but notable absentees were Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh much to my displeasure. I was really looking forward to seeing the two of them right at the start. More on them later. The first couple of exchanges were quite nervy and the crowd really got behind the team which might’ve been just the catalyst that the home side needed. Every pass and every tackle was cheered with great fervor something that was previously unseen at the grounds. A special mention about the stadium itself. The stands look quite stunning with the new colors. A functioning LED screen was an added bonus and it was surprisingly clean although the F&B section could’ve been better organized but it’s a serious upgrade from what was served earlier.
There were a couple of corners for each side within the first 20 odd minutes but there was no great threat from either side. The players might’ve been overawed by the reception they got when they walked out as well and they just needed to string a few passes together to calm the nerves. Katsumi Yusa, the number 10 for Mohun Bagan, was quite easily their best player in the opening exchanges and drew a fair amount of stick from the crowd. An early penalty to Mohun Bagan which didn’t look like a foul from where I was sitting, was met with an uproar from the crowd. Not what you want to see in the first quarter of the game. But Pawan Kumar in goal pulled off a stunning save and the evening seemed to be back on track again. Again, I can hardly find the words to describe the reaction of the fans to the penalty save. Unbelievable stuff. A free-kick was awarded to Bagan around the 25 minute mark and Katsumi stepped up and unleashed a super effort which thudded off the crossbar. The keeper was comprehensively beaten. A collective sigh around the ground. A couple of minutes later, the Indian captain walked out to warm up on the touchline and the crowd went berserk. The scores were level at half time. A very entertaining first half owing largely to the occasion itself.
The second half begun pretty much the same way the previous half had ended. A good move down the flank gave Vishak Kumar enough time and space to setup Sean Rooney. A simple tap in for the Australian. The roar from the crowd must’ve been heard a few miles away. It was phenomenal! The crowd barely settled back in their seats and the nimble footed Keegan Pereira was brought down in the box after a good run down the left flank. Penalty awarded! Rooney immediately grabbed the ball. A confident run up ended up in a miscued shot and a decent save by Sandip Nandy, the Mohun Bagan shot stopper. A few faint cheers from the very few vocal Mohun Bagan supporters in the ground. That was the chance to put the game to bed and coast it. Huge groans from the crowd but it was almost immediately followed up with a huge round of applause for no apparent reason. There was no stopping the fans today. Three letters resonated around the ground. BFC!
On came Chhetri around the hour mark and almost had an instant impact. His controlled volley only barely wide. Yusa, clearly not the crowd favorite, had another fine effort stopped by the woodwork. The Japanese midfielder was clearly their only creative outlet and threat.
There were 6500 people at the stadium according to the announcement but that of course has to be an approximation only. A record turnout. The highest attendance in 25 years apparently.
Robin Singh came on for the last ten minutes and was played out wide. A second yellow card resulted in a sending off for one of the Bengaluru boys, for what seemed like a dive was just the boost the opponents needed. The game was stretched now. We just needed to see out the game.
Right at the death, a corner from the far end of the ground led to the equalizer. Some shocking defending at the back post. Sabeeth headed in almost unchallenged. Extremely poor marking. A late equalizer is always extremely deflating even though this is just the first game of the season. It ended 1-1 after 90 minutes plus stoppage time.
All in all, a very encouraging start to the campaign. I’ve got to reiterate the electric atmosphere which the crowd helped create. The ground was absolutely buzzing. The standout performer for me was John Menyongar in the middle of the park. A very influential player with some silky touches to boot.
I cannot wait for the next home game against Rangdajied United. It could very well be the day we get our first win. Come. Be a part of the revolution and add to the growing fan base. It’s this Sunday at 4.
And of course, cheers to Arsenal’s 3-1 win and United’s 1-4 loss! Haha! Good night! :)
– Nischal Naidu