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Air Force Club vs Bengaluru FC - Rating the Bengaluru FC players

Bengaluru FC fell to a Hammadi Ahmed goal in the AFC Cup final in DOha.

FBL-ASIA-C2-AIR FORCE-BENGALURU : News Photo
Bengaluru FC lost by 1 goal against Air Force Club

Bengaluru FC fell one short of making history on Saturday night, as they lost out to a well organised Air Force Club from Iraq on the night. It was a mixed bag in terms of individual performances from the boys in Blue (white on the night), we dissect each player’s performance.

Lalthuammawia Ralte (GK) – 8

Coming in for the suspended first choice goalkeeper, Ralte was viewed by many to be the weak link in the team. His mix-up with Juanan in the 21st minute of the game presented Humam Tareq with an opportunity to shoot at an empty net, would have had armchair pundits nodding their heads, but as they game went on, he soon regained his mojo and made a few notable interceptions.

His biggest contribution to Bengaluru FC’s game was thwarting the cross from Emad Mohsin at the end of the first half and was the perfect example of what the Mizoram man is all about. He gets extra points for playing the sweeper keeper role with aplomb. Amrinder Singh may not be given sleepless nights yet, but Ralte is more than an able deputy.

Rino Anto – 6

The buccaneering full-back is no doubt the heart and soul of the Bengaluru FC team, always on the move, always ready to cross, almost never caught out. He showed exactly what he is all about, when he expertly ran to the touchline and crossed the ball with his first touch around the 10th-minute mark, just an inch away from Sunil Chhetri, who made a late dart.

But, sadly for the man from Kerala, that was his only notable contribution offensively to the team. When Bangalore really needed him to get a goal back, he was mostly caught in no man’s land, with the 3-5-2 formation. The 28-year-old, no doubt, has seen better days. 

John Johnson - 9

Hands down, Johnson was Bengaluru FC’s best player. He played as if his life depended on it. From the first whistle, he was first to get to everything the Iraqi’s threw at the Blues, with his heading, tackling and passing, impeccable.

Being from Middlesbrough, he wouldn’t have had imagined anyone would have asked him the question, 'can you do it on a hot, sticky night in Doha'? Irrespective of the answer he might give you now, he did do it and he did it like he meant to. Was really unlucky to be on the losing side when the game ended, and didn’t deserve to be.

Juanan – 6

The fact I have ‘good clearance’ and ‘nice pass’ as the only two things written down on my notes for the game for the big burly Spaniard describes his game. Neat on the ball, mostly untroubled until the whole 3-5-2 situation when he saw himself playing as left back more often than not. 

Could he have done better for Amjed Radhi’s body swerve to set up the goal? Definitely, yes.

Nishu Kumar – 5.5

FBL-ASIA-C2-AIR FORCE-BENGALURU : News Photo
Nishu Kumar started another game for the Blues

To be honest, I was surprised to see Nishu Kumar starting the game, especially with Keegan Periera fit. But, he repaid the faith in him from Albert Roca to some extent, no glaring errors, and mostly solid. 

He isn’t what they call a flying full-back, so I will cut him some slack for not remembering even one occasion in which he ventured into the opposition half. Kumar was taken off soon after the goal.

Alwyn George – 5

The boy from Nagpur is hands down one of the best naturally gifted ball players in India at the moment. But, he has been branded as a player with potential for way too long. Admittedly he is not what you call a proper winger, and has the tendency to go invisible in games.

Since Albert Roca has taken over the squad, George is probably the only player who hasn’t proved to the Spaniard (at least during matches) his best. For the moment, this might be enough, but with a fit Udanta, it is tick-tock, tick-tock and boom! 

Alvaro Rubio - 5

This was a game tailor-made for the Spaniard. Having played most of his career at Valladolid, this was probably the biggest opportunity of earning a major silverware for the former Spain U-21 international.

To be brutally honest, he fluffed his lines and he did so badly. He couldn’t control the game as he usually does, and was run over by the Iraqi side. He struggled in the heat in Doha and left Cameron Watson exposed as the game wore on. The question now is, peak summer, I-League, Salt Lake stadium, will he able to cut it?

Cameron Watson – 7

He did his job, like he always does. He kept the ball when he needed to, defended well until the goal and took a brilliant corner to the back post which Sunil Chhetri connected on the volley, but was blocked.

When he switched to the man in the middle of a three-man defence, he was exposed way too often but did well to catch the Air Force Club players off on occasions.

Eugeneson Lyngdoh – 6

There are quite a few among us who think that Eugene’s best position is in a midfield two. But with Alvaro and Cameron in the squad, he has played as a left winger and a number 10, and although he made the number 10 position his own against JDT, he struggled against Air Force.

He hardly saw the ball, and when he did, more often than not he was crowded out. When playing on the counter, he might not be the best bet to play in the hole. It will be criminal of me to criticise him for the left footed shot from the Sunil Chhetri cut back, which was the best opportunity of the game for the Blues. 

He saw much more of the ball when he dropped deeper, but it ultimately amounted to nothing.

C K Vineeth – 5

Take a deep breath. Run. That in five words was the game for C K Vineeth. He ran and ran, then he ran some more. But, ultimately, when the ball came to him in the 87th minute, with 1.2 billion people (or the percentage watching the game or following it) expecting him to volley a cross, he went for the headlines.

Air shot, ball out for a goal-kick. This was the equivalent of “Okaythanksbye”.

Sunil Chhetri – 7

AFC Cup Final 2016: JSW Bengaluru v Air Force Club - Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya : News Photo
Chhetri couldn’t help his team past the final hurdle

The professional he is, the team leader he is, Chhetri hardly makes a fuss about the position he plays in. But, now 32-years-old, is he the man you want to chase the right back into your own half? Or defend a cross going into the box? Or run up and down the wing in the heat of Doha?

The answer to those questions is definitely not, but then again, he scored two goals from the same position in the semi-finals. In Doha, the best moments of the game inevitably came from their captain, a lovely toe-poked cutback for Eugene, the left-footed volley from the corner, or going past the two players on the touchline, he led from the front. But, just like his team, he fell short, one step short.

Udanta Singh (substitute) – He was asked to play as a wing-back when he came on for the Blues, but the talented 19-year-old looked out of depth at the position and hardly did anything of note. 

Seminlen Doungel (substitute) – Came on for Alwyn George to play alongside Sunil Chhetri and Vineeth, but I don’t remember Len touching the ball even once. The frantic nature of the game didn’t help either.

Salam Ranjan Singh (substitute) – NA

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