How Bengaluru FC could line up in ISL 2023-24
Bengaluru FC will be driven to win the title after losing to the Mariners in the final last season.
After last season’s disappointing loss to Mohun Bagan in the final, Bengaluru FC will be eyeing for the Indian Super League (ISL) trophy this season with the help of coach Simon Grayson and some excellent signings of experience and young talent they made in the summer transfer window ahead of the ISL’s 2023-24 campaign.
Simon Grayson is a coach with a proven track record of pulling teams out of difficult situations. In addition, the well-known Englishman led Bengaluru FC to their first-ever Durand Cup triumph, which was the club’s first trophy since the 2018-19 season.
On September 21, Bengaluru FC will face their fiercest rivals Kerala Blasters at Kochi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to kick off their ISL season. It will be exciting to watch how Simon Grayson and his boys start their season against the strong side in Kochi in the opening match of the tournament.
Let’s look at the Blues’ probable starting XI for the upcoming 2023-24 ISL season. Here is Bengaluru FC’s predicted lineup for the next season.
GK: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has been a regular in Bengaluru FC’s starting XI for the past five years. He joined the team in 2017 after being the first Indian player to compete in the UEFA Europa League at Norway’s Stabaek FC. Since 2011, he has participated in more than 50 games for India and also has has 108 appearances in the ISL. Only Amrinder Singh has played in more games as a goalie in the country’s top division than Sandhu.
Sandhu has been protecting BFC’s goal single-handedly from the last few seasons and no doubt he is currently one of the best goalkeepers in the country. GSS has extended his contract with Bengaluru FC for a further five years, which is till 2028.
CB: Slavko Damjanovic
Bengaluru FC with no doubt will be benefited from the defensive abilities of Damjanovic as he knows the league well. Slavko is well-known throughout Indian football and is extremely familiar with the league’s dynamics. In the 2021–22 season, he made his debut in India and sported the Chennaiyin FC uniform.
Damjanovic joined ATK Mohun Bagan midway through last season. With his strong defensive abilities, the 31-year-old helped the Mariners win their first Indian Super League title. Damjanovic joins the Blues after winning the title which will surely be a major boost for them this season.
CB: Aleksandar Jovanovic
The 32-year-old Australian, who has played for teams in six different nations, becomes Simon Grayson’s seventh acquisition. Jovanovic, who stands at 196 cm, is one of Australia’s most successful K-League exports, having made over a century of appearances in two distinct periods with Jeju United.
Jovanovic is expected to do well in defence alongside Slavko and Jessel Carneiro as he is one of the defenders that Bengaluru FC is going to rely on this season because of his rock-solid defensive blockings and anticipated interceptions.
CB: Jessel Carneiro
Jessel Carneiro has signed a two-year deal with Bengaluru FC ahead of this year’s ISL after switching sides from Kerala Blasters. Carneiro started his career at Dempo and later played for FC Bardez and Pune FC before signing with Kerala Blasters in 2019. Jessel played for Goa team that advanced to the Santosh Trophy semifinal in 2019 and was elected captain of the Kerala Blasters in November 2021. He has played in 63 games in the Indian Super League over the course of four seasons.
DM: Suresh Wangjam Singh
Born in Manipur, Wangjam joined the Blues in 2019 and temporarily played for the team’s reserves before making his ISL debut that same year. Since then, the former Indian Arrows star has solidified his position in the Bengaluru team.
Last season, Suresh did not live up to expectations since he frequently lost possession of the ball while attacking. We can still anticipate him regaining his best form this season and doing better in the upcoming campaign under coach Grayson.
DM: Rohit Kumar
Rohit Kumar is one of the potential midfielders who have improved a lot at Bengaluru FC. Previously, Rohit was unable to earn any playing time with either Kerala Blasters or Hyderabad FC. Following a successful Durand Cup 2022 campaign, Rohit had a breakout season in the Indian Super League (ISL).
Rohit began to play a prominent role in Simon Grayson’s system in the second half of the 2021-22 season. His ISL performance was directly tied to the Blues’ resurgence in the competition. He scored three times during the competition, all in short succession. As of now, he has made 36 appearances for Bengaluru FC in various competitions. As a result of his strong performances, he also received his first call-up to the Indian national squad.
AM: Javi Hernandez
Bengaluru FC quickly signed Javi after evaluating his skills following a good time at Odisha FC. Javi was one of Odisha FC’s bright spots, scoring goals and dishing out standout assists, but he was unable to help the team advance to the playoffs. Javi scored six goals for Bengaluru FC last season, one of them in the 2022-23 playoffs. He also have five assists to his name in the Blues jersey.
Assisting Sunil Chhetri and Curtis Main this season will be Javi’s main responsibility. He is capable of scoring goals too and is also one of the deadliest set-piece takers in the league.
LW: Halicharan Narzary
Winger Halicharan Narzary has joined Bengaluru FC on a three-year contract from Hyderabad FC ahead of the 2023-24 ISL season. In addition to playing for I-League clubs DSK Shivajians and Dempo SC, Narzary began his career as a teenager in 2010 with Pailan Arrows. The 29-year-old has 27 caps for the Senior National Team and has represented India at many levels. Halicharan is a talented player with a lot of experience in ISL.
Narzary is being hailed as a direct replacement for Udanta Singh. Halicharan has played in 103 games in the Indian Super League over nine seasons and had the second-most assists for any Indian player (with six) during his most recent campaign. The winger participated in Hyderabad FC’s championship-winning 2021–22 season and finished second to Chennaiyin FC in the 2019 Hero Super Cup campaign.
RW: Sivasakthi Narayanan
21-year-old Sivasakthi Narayanan from Karaikudi is tipped to become the next big thing in Indian football. He scores a variety of goals and has the passing ability to set up opportunities for his teammates, making him a complete forward who can also run with the ball on the wings.
Siva Shakti has already proved his worth multiple times to Bengaluru FC in the last season and thus, it will be interesting to watch what he has in store for this season’s ISL campaign.
CF: Sunil Chhetri
Sunil Chhetri, the ISL’s second-highest goalscorer after Ferran Corominas, will compete in his eighth ISL season this year and his sixth with Bengaluru FC. Chhetri’s outstanding performances have contributed significantly to the club’s success and cemented his reputation as an iconic figure in the Indian football scene.
The 39-year-old’s commitment and tenacity are unmatched, and Chhetri doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. He was primarily responsible for most of Bengaluru FC’s goals.
CF: Curtis Main
After Sunil Chhetri, Curtis Main will be one of the key players for Bengaluru FC this season. Curtis Main is Bengaluru’s second foreign signing of the transfer season, following the arrival of Slavko Damjanovic from Mohun Bagan.
Main has expertise in creating chances and leading attacks thanks to his strength and speed. Simon Grayson’s Bengaluru FC will surely benefit from having him on a team with players like Sunil Chhetri and Javi Hernandez as they prepare for the upcoming competitive season.