The club is one of the 10 teams that will compete in the qualifiers this season.
Formed in 2018, FC Bengaluru United have taken some steady steps in Indian football. They are currently featuring in the Durand Cup, but their primary aim is to do well in the I-League Qualifiers and make it to the I-League for the first time.
They had an impressive I-League qualifying campaign last season, as they finished third behind Mohammedan SC and Bhawanipore FC. Following a decent I-League Qualifiers, Bengaluru United went on to win the BDFA Super Division. They dominated the Bengaluru-based domestic league by winning 10 out of 12 matches. Richard Hood’s side are on top of their group in the Durand Cup after winning each of their three matches. They look ready for the upcoming challenge in the I-league 2nd division Qualifiers. The winner will advance to the I-League.
To add fuel to their dreams, Bengaluru United have signed some exceptional players, who will help them get to their desired target. The first signing of the season was roping in former Churchill Brothers striker Luka Majcen. The 32-year-old was prolific for the Red Machines in the I-League last season, as he netted 11 goals.
His partner in crime is another new addition, Spanish marksman Pedro Manzi. The Spaniard came to India in 2018 when he joined Chennai City FC. The rest as they say is history. The Southerners went on to win the I-League, as Manzi finished the campaign with the Golden Boot, netting 21 goals in 18 appearances. Manzi then had a stint in Japan with Albirex Niigata before he returned to India to represent Mohammedan SC. Despite joining the league mid-season, he scored six goals from eight matches in the I-League.
We have already seen how Manzi and Majcen have started developing an understanding between them in a couple of Durand Cup matches. Manzi has already scored thrice in the tournamet, while Majcen has played a more withdrawal role to facilitate the Spaniard.
Apart from the foreigners, Bengaluru United also have a decent bunch of Indian players. They have a good mix of experience and youthful exuberance in their roster. Players like Dharmaraj Ravanan, Kingshuk Debnath and Sanju Pradhan have been around Indian football for more than a decade. Whereas, young talents like Yumnam Gopi Singh, Thokchom James Singh, Asrar Rehbar provide that energy and panache on the field.
Indian head coach Richard Hood is quite popular for his attacking brand of football and is arguably one of the most underrated coaches in the country. Hood will have the company of former Indian international Gouramangi Singh, who has joined the club as an assistant coach.
While Hood acts as the tactical mastermind, Gouramangi uses his experience from his playing days. The duo has done exceptional work in such a short period and if they continue in this manner, then the I-League is not far away for Bengaluru United.
FC Bengaluru United are considered one of the most modern and forward-looking clubs in India. They recently joined hands with Spanish La Liga outfit Sevilla for technological growth and grassroots development. The Spanish giants were also interested in making footprints in one of the most vibrant and biggest markets in world football.
The collaboration was honoured by the World Football Summit, as the tie-up between FC Bengaluru United and Sevilla won the ‘Best International Strategy award.’ This shows that the club have the vision to take Indian football forward and are gradually making the right noises to get up the ladder.
FCBU became the first club to qualify for the knockout rounds in the Durand Cup. Now their real test begins, as they will be up against the best teams in the tournament and a momentary lapse in concentration may end their run in the competition. There are chances that Bengaluru United may face reigning Durand Cup champions Gokulam Kerala in the quarterfinals. That, if it happens, will be a big test against superior opposition. While they have the attacking quartet of Manzi, Majcen, Ronaldo Oliveira and Gopi, their all-Indian defence still looks shaky. Hence, the onus will be on Hood and Gouramangi to iron out those mistakes and forge a successful path forward.
A good display in the Durand Cup will set them in great stead for the I-League Qualifiers later this year. The main mantra for Bengaluru United will be to be consistent throughout the season and that way, they can reach the summit.