India unites to cheer for Bengaluru FC's historic AFC Cup campaign
Bengaluru FC carved their names into the history books today as they became the first Indian team ever to reach the final of the AFC Cup. A brace from their inspirational captain Sunil Chhetri saw them put away defending champions Johor Darul Ta’zim 3-1 on their home turf, the Kanteerava stadium, ensuring a 4-2 aggregate win in the semi-final.
The game that was tagged as the “biggest game in Indian footballing history” by Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca certainly lived up to its expectations. The game not only produced thrilling football but made everlasting connections as fans from all over the nation submerged towards MG Road in Bengaluru to add their voice to the already vociferous support of the West Block Blues.
Whilst, this was a victory for Bengaluru FC in every right, this was also a moment to savour for all Indian football fans. And to make it feel like an all-Indian affair, Bengaluru FC had earlier reached out to rival clubs East Bengal, Mohun Bagan, Shillong Lajong and Aizawl to help achieve the same; calling for a momentary ceasefire to their heated rivalries.
In a never seen event, the management of the Steelmen penned official letters, asking them to voice their support for the South Indian side.
And they were not disappointed. The Kolkata giants penned back letters, showing support to Bengaluru’s cause.
Mohun Bagan, who became the first Indian team this year to qualify for the second round of the AFC Champions League, have enjoyed a storied rivalry with Bengaluru in the I-League, with the clubs exchanging the top two places in the last two seasons. However, they extended their hand of friendship for the night and one feels they will certainly again for the coming final.
East Bengal, on the other hand, had reached the semi-finals of the competition in 2013. However, they cheered for the Blue Army today to break their own record to attain what they called as a “victory for Indian football.”
Shillong Lajong also were more than happy to cheer for the men from the South.
Even Mohammedan Sporting and Sporting Clube de Goa made official statements, extending their support for the game tonight.
This felt like a game in which the whole of India were behind the team, cheering the Steelmen on the pitch as well as around the country on social media. And when the ninety minutes were finally over, it felt like not only a joy for Bengaluru but for the whole footballing fraternity of the nation.
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