AFC Cup 2016: Bengaluru FC narrowly edged out by Air Force Club in the AFC Cup final
Bengaluru FC faltered at the brink of history as they lost one goal to nil against a dominant Air Force Club, with their highest scored Hammadi Ahmed scoring the winning goal.
The game started in a predictable manner with the Iraqi side having most of the possession, and Bengaluru FC sitting back patiently to hit Air Force club on the counter. Sunil Chhetri, the Bengaluru FC, and Indian national team captain started on the left, with Eugeneson Lyngdoh playing behind the striker CK Vineeth.
Hammadi Ahmed, who had fifteen goals in ten games in the AFC Cup campaign ahead of the final, started as the number ten behind Emad Mohsin. But, the Indian side soon started getting into the game, as on the tenth minute, Rino Anto send a ball into the back post from a swift counter attack, but both the right back Samah Saeed and Sunil Chhetri were both caught underneath the ball.
Bengaluru FC fans would have their heart in their mouth when Juanan and stand-in keeper Lalthuammawia Ralte had a major mixup when they both tried to clear a ball at the edge of Bengaluru FC box. The ball fell to Humam Tareq whose first-time volley shot turned into a cross for Hammadi Ahmed and had to be cleared by Rino Anto.
That was the last we saw of the right winger, who had to go off for Osama Ali due to what appeared to be a problem with his groin. The biggest chance of the first half though fell for Amjed Radhi who was expertly put through Hammadi Ahmed behind the Bengaluru FC defence, but his cut back was telegraphed by Ralte.
The first half ended was a relatively edgy affair, but the second half started with both teams fashioning openings. Amjed Radhi brought down a cross with a brilliant first touch and should have scored, but shot over the bar with both Rino Anto and Jack Johnson both wrong-footed.
In what was probably Bengaluru’s best chance to take the lead, Sunil Chhetri controlled the ball brilliantly on his chest and toe-poked it to Eugeneson Lyngdoh at the edge of the box, but the Indian International’s shot was cleared off the line. Soon after Hammadi Ahmed had another chance to send the Iraqi side in the lead, but his shot blazed over the ball.
The breakthrough came in the seventieth minute when Ahmed Radhi ghosted past three Bengaluru FC players to square it for the top scorer in the competition Hammadi Ahmed, who gobbled it up with an open net in front of him. The goal saw Bengaluru FC make a tactical switch going three at the back with Watson dropping in-between Juanan and Johnson.
The tactic though backfired, with Bengaluru defenders seemed oblivious to positions they should occupy on the pitch as Air Force created chance after chance and should have at the least converted one or two. There was a lot of play-acting/time wasting as the game edged into the last ten minutes of the second half with Iraqi players dropping like flies.
Bengaluru’s chance at redemption though was squandered by CK Vineeth when a wonderful ball lofted in the box by Watson found the man from Kerala, but he didn’t connect with his first-time volley. Despite Bengaluru FC getting a few opportunities to shoot in the box, couldn’t fashion any clear cut opportunities.
The Iraqi side held on for a famous win and in the process becoming the first Iraqi club to win the AFC Cup.
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