The Blues’ showed their class in the two-legged fixture in the continental competition.
Ahead of the trip to Bhutan, Bengaluru FC head coach Carles Cuadrat had announced their 30-man squad for the AFC Cup which featured a total of nine players from ‘Bengaluru FC B’ team. With the Indian Super League fixtures in mind and a chance at Asian glory, Cuadrat decided to make use of the players that don’t feature regularly in the first-team. He also handed out senior debuts to certain players from the youth side.
The new-look Blues’ side eventually decimated their Bhutanese counterparts in the two legged fixture. The ISL defending champions progressed to the next stage of the AFC Cup qualifiers with a 10-1 aggregate victory.
Here are five youngsters that impressed for the Blues over the two legs against Paro FC:
5. Naorem Roshan Singh
The youngster who is a prominent name in the ‘BFC B’ team made his first senior appearance for the club against Paro FC in Bhutan. Roshan has represented India at the AFC U-19 Championship Qualifiers in Saudi Arabia. He was named the ‘BFC B’ skipper for the 2019-20 season and was instrumental in the youth side’s brilliant performances.
Roshan was part of the starting XI against Paro FC and was seen creating space and chances for the attackers in the first half. His link-up play with Semboi Haokip and Nili Perdomo worked well, as the trio tried their best to grab the lead in the first half, but failed to register a goal despite having many attempts. However, their efforts paid off as a combination of passes among the three helped them find the back of the net early in the second.
Roshan received the ball from Perdomo just outside the box and set it up for Semboi, whose run inside the box was perfectly timed to slot the ball into the back of the net.
4. Leon Augustine
Leon is another promising player from the youth ranks of Bengaluru, who has been making headlines with his excellent performances in midfield and attack. The youngster is a key part of the youth setup and has contributed well with his goalscoring prowess.
Leon had already featured for Bengaluru FC in the 2018 AFC Cup under former head coach Albert Roca against Abahani Dhaka. He came off the bench in the second half of the match and was given a few minutes. Two years down the line, Cuadrat brought Leon off the bench against the Bhutanese side. With just 20 minutes left on the clock, he looked confident of making a mark in the game and used the spaces on the flank to his advantage.
His swift runs made it difficult for the defenders to contain him and his combinations with the midfielders created open spaces and chances for attackers. He grabbed an assist in the final moments of the game, delicately chipping the ball into the box for Semboi, who fired it into the back of the net. Leon was then seen dribbling his way past the Paro FC defence and looking to get a goal for himself. However, his shot was deflected off a defender and went just inches wide of the frame of the goal.
3. Gursimrat Singh Gill
Gursimrat Gill has worked his way into the senior side after regularly featuring for the ‘BFC B’ team. He had made his professional debut for the club under former head coach Roca in an AFC Cup game against Abahani Dhaka in 2017. He had come off the bench and featured in the dying moments of the game.
Gursimrat was named in the starting lineup in Bhutan against Paro and was solid in defence, as the side finished the game with a clean-sheet. The first leg was an intense encounter, as the hosts looked to use their home advantage and add to the scoreline, but the Bengaluru defenders made very few errors and didn’t give them any clear chances to score.
Gursimrat again went on to feature in the second leg, alongside his brother Prabhsukhan Gill, who was guarding the goal. Although, the second leg was a one-sided event with Bengaluru running riot over their opponents, Gursimrat performed well at the back.
2. Parag Shrivas
The youngster from Maharashtra is one of Bengaluru FC’s finest prospects from the youth side. He was named ‘BFC B’ Player of the Year in 2019, for his versatile performances with the youth side. A player who carries great praise to his name, Parag is known to play across different positions. He primarily plays as a left-back and has also featured as a winger previously. The 22 year-old made his debut for the senior side against Jamshedpur FC last season in the ISL.
Parag started at left-back in Bengaluru’s second leg clash against Paro FC and did exceptionally well going on to play for the whole 90 minutes against a very strong and fast opposition. Despite having less work to do, the youngster was calm and made no mistakes in defence. His passing and delivery were fantastic. The budding defender was solid at the back and never gave an inch of space for the Bhutanese side to attack from.
1. Suresh Singh Wangjam
Suresh Wangjam has been a regular name in the lineup ever since he had been handed his first start earlier this year, which goes on to show how impressive he has been for the side. Suresh’s exceptional qualities in midfield have been on display for a while now and Cuadrat seems to be very pleased by the player.
The young midfielder made his AFC Cup debut against Paro and was part of the main XI in both legs. In the first leg in Bhutan, Wangjam was seen running all over the pitch in conditions that were not easy to adapt to. Yet, the youngster was seen dictating terms in midfield. His sudden bursts of pace often caught the opposition midfielders off guard. He was instrumental in the side returning to the second leg with a clean-sheet.
Although, he didn’t have a bigger part to play in the second leg when Bengaluru routed the visitors 9-1, his contribution in defence often takes the pressure off the other defenders and helps maintain the balance in midfield. Suresh Wangjam has made a name for himself among the Bengaluru faithful and is a frequent recipient of the coach’s praise.