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Bengaluru FC will benefit in ISL from AFC Cup break, feels Bhaichung Bhutia

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BFC Media

Bengaluru FC will benefit in ISL from AFC Cup break, feels Bhaichung Bhutia

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SportsCafe Desk


Bhaichung Bhutia believes that Bengaluru FC’s break from ISL to play the AFC Cup will work in the team’s favour as they will get an opportunity to gel well as a unit. Bhutia has also hailed Jeje Lalpekhlua's 18-yard box prowess, which he feels worked as a major difference for Chennaiyin FC.

One of the most established and successful clubs in the country, Bengaluru FC have been a two-time I-League winner and won the Federation Cup twice as well. The Bengaluru-based franchise are also the only Indian club to reach the final of the AFC Cup and have achieved all this in only their brief four-year sojourn in Indian football. 

When the team successfully managed to enter the ISL, they were promised that they would be allowed to participate in the AFC Cup and now, will travel to Bhutan to take on Transport United FC on January 30. And the former India skipper Bhutia believes that the club, who, with 18 points, are now at the second position on the ISL table, will benefit from the break as they will get an opportunity to gel well as a unit.

"Bengaluru have been the most organised team, and with the experience of playing in the inter-zonal AFC Cup final, they look confident and hungry. They will break away a bit to play in the AFC Cup qualifiers, a move which I feel will enable them to gel more as a unit. However, with so much of travelling involved, a bit of rotation holds the key for them,” Bhutia wrote in his column for TOI.

"To me, three teams — Chennaiyin, Goa and Bengaluru — have looked more consistent than the rest to make it to the semis, from where any of the four teams could go on to win the championship. The other slot, I feel will be a fight between Pune City and a scramble between Mumbai City and Kerala Blasters."  

Chennaiyin are at the top of the ISL table with 20 points from 10 matches so far with six wins and two draws and the success can be attributed to one of their most dependable forwards, Jeje Lalpekhlua, who has scored six goals from 10 matches. And Bhutia believes that the forward’s ability to convert the passes into goals inside the 18-yard box helps the franchise heavily.

"It's heartening to see Jeje Lelpekhlua lead the charts for Chennaiyin with six goals so far. His lethal prowess in the 18-yard box has made a difference, especially with the midfield keeping the supply line on," the 41-year-old wrote.

FC Goa have been the most entertaining teams in the league, having scored most number of goals (22). The Gaurs have one of the most attacking units in the league and their forward Ferran "Coro" Corominas is league’s top scorer, bagging nine goals and three assists. The Spaniard has also been well supported by his compatriot Manuel Lanzarote, who scored seven goals by himself, and Bhutia had words of praise for the duo.

"Goa have been one of the best attacking sides with Ferran Corominas and Manuel Lanzarote scoring 16 between themselves. It's a healthy competition, with Corominas staying atop with nine goals while Lanzarote is on seven. Gifted and a nightmare for the rival defenders, they have struck an enviable combination."  

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