THE GAFFER'S HALF SIMON GRAYSON Hello, everyone. Three weeks is a long wait in football, and even more so when you’ve only just returned to the Fortress. It was great to be back in front of all of you earlier this month and I’m glad that the boys were able to put on a show that pulled us over the line against what was a challenging East Bengal FC team. The support you showed from the stands was brilliant despite going a goal down, and the lads showed our true spirit and togetherness as a team and club to bring home the points. I want to extend a warm welcome to the players, staff and supporters of FC Goa. There are a few familiar faces in their squad, including the likes of Sandesh and Udanta, who I am sure will be received well. They gave everything for our badge during their time at BFC. This season I have given several younger players their debuts and a lot of game time, which is something that, as a club, we feel is the way forward. The lads on the B Team have been doing really well in the BDFA Super Division League, which is a tournament I bottom. have kept a keen eye on over the last few months. I’ve been to all the games so far, It doesn’t help that tonight is, yet again, a to keep an eye on who will train with us in fixture that leads into a long spell of away the future and be part of our squad. games. But that’s how football is some- times. I’m certain that those who make We have a very strong foundation with our their way into the stands will be in full Grassroots Program, our BFC Soccer voice, and that the boys will do everything Schools and Academy teams that are they can to do you proud out on the pitch. continuously raising the bar in tourna- ments across the city. Our aim as a Love, football club is to have an increasing number of home-grown players as part of Simon Grayson the first team and it starts right at the BFC SQUAD HEAD COACH SIMON GRAYSON GOALKEEPERS 1 GURPREET SINGH SANDHU 13 AMRIT GOPE 30 SAHIL POONIA 33 VIKRAM SINGH DEFENDERS 2 PARAG SHRIVAS 4 ALEKSANDAR JOVANOVIC 14 JESSEL CARNEIRO 16 SHANKAR SAMPINGIRAJ 23 SLAVKO DAMJANOVIC 25 NAMGYAL BHUTIYA 32 NAOREM ROSHAN SINGH 44 ROBIN YADAV MIDFIELDERS 6 KEZIAH VEENDORP 8 SURESH SINGH WANGJAM 10 JAVI HERNANDEZ 18 ROHIT KUMAR 45 LALREMTLUANGA FANAI 46 SHREYAS KETKAR 49 HARSH PATRE FORWARDS 7 RYAN WILLIAMS 9 CURTIS MAIN 11 SUNIL CHHETRI 19 HALICHARAN NARZARY 24 ROHIT DANU 29 ASHISH JHA 38 ANKITH PADMANABHAN 39 SIVASAKTHI NARAYANAN 41 MONIRUL MOLLA FC GOA SQUAD HEAD COACH MANOLO MÁRQUEZ GOALKEEPERS 1 DHEERAJ SINGH MOIRANGTHEM 13 ARSHDEEP SINGH SAINI 55 HRITHIK TIWARI DEFENDERS 2 SANSON PEREIRA 3 SANDESH JHINGAN 5 NARAYAN DAS 6 LEANDER D CUNHA 11 CARLOS MARTINEZ 16 ODEI ZABALA 20 SERITON BENNY FERNANDES 21 SAVIOUR GAMA 41 JAY GUPTA 45 RAYAN ROGER MENEZES MIDFIELDERS 4 CARL MCHUGH 7 NOAH WAIL SADAOUI 8 RAYNIER FERNANDES 10 BRANDON FERNANDES 14 AYUSH DEV CHHETRI 17 BORIS SINGH THANGJAM 18 ROWLLIN BORGES 28 PAULO RETRE 32 VICTOR ROMERO 42 BRISON FERNANDES 44 MUHAMMED NEMIL VALIYATTIL FORWARDS 9 CARLOS MARTÍNEZ 15 UDANTA KUMAM SINGH 29 DEVENDRA DHAKU MURGAONKAR BFC TOP SCORER STAT ATTACK IN THIS FIXTURE 39 AGE MATCHES PLAYED 14 SUNIL BFC WIN 7 CHHETRI 4 5 GOALS DRAW FCG WIN 3 STANDINGS BENGALURU HAVE SCORED CLUBS P W D L POINTS 26 GOALS IN THIS FIXTURE, 2 FCG 3 3 0 0 9 NINE MORE THAN FC GOA. 3 MCFC 3 2 1 0 7 THERE HAVE BEEN 7 RED 4 KBFC 4 2 1 1 7 CARDS IN CLASHES BETWEEN THESE TWO SIDES. 5 NEUFC 4 1 2 1 5 EXPECT A FEISTY AFFAIR! 6 JFC 4 1 2 1 5 7 OFC 3 1 1 1 4 BENGALURU FC HAVE NEVER LOST TO FC GOA AT THE 8 EBFC 4 1 1 2 4 KANTEERAVA STADIUM. 9 BFC 3 1 0 2 3 It takes a strong will to be ranked among India’s top business houses. But it was stronger dreams and ambition that made us venture into the core sectors of Steel, Energy, Cement and Infrastructure. Our strength, state-of-the art technology and excellence in execution have helped us grow and that has helped India grow multi-fold. By harbouring dreams of transformation, focusing on sustainability and a philosophy; to give back to the country, the JSW Group is making a better world every day. Steel | Energy | Infrastructure | Cement | Paints Realty | Ventures | Foundation | Sports www.jsw.in MAIN CHARACTER ENERGY Curtis Main Had School The Day After His Pro Debut, It Was An Evening The Englishman Hasn’t Forgotten, Much Like The Years That Led To It. Curtis Main “There are many individual moments I can look back on with great pleasure, but to be able to perform as a professional footballer for more than 15 years is something I’m very proud of. Knowing all the work that goes into it, mentally, physically and emotionally, I think that’s an achievement in itself,” says the Blues’ no. 9. Born in South Shields, a coastal town in Tyneside, Main says his journey in football began with his sister’s white lie. “I played football from a very young age. I have a brother who is four years older, so I joined in with him and his friends a lot. I remember my first match was a five-a-side indoors and my brother was playing. My sister told the coach I was the same age as my brother, so he let me in. I think I scored two or three goals that day and from then on, I played with them a lot, and then with my own age groups too.” Main made his debut for League Two club Darlington against Peterborough United, aged just 15 years and 318 days; the youngest to ever play for the club. The following year, he scored his first profession- al goal, a winner off the bench against Grimsby Town. “That was after many years of hard work through an academy system, from seven or eight years old to 15 I played for the Sunder- land Academy. I left there and very quickly got an opportunity to make my professional debut with Darlington. My form in the youth teams was good, and there were some injuries in the first team, so that worked in my favour,” Main recalls. By his own admission, Main remembers he barely managed to get his father a ticket to watch his debut against Peterborough at Blackwell Meadows. “It was a proud moment for my family, but I didn’t even know I would be involved until matchday. I remember just about scrambling a ticket for my Dad to be there at the last minute. It was a great day, I remember it like it was yesterday.” Having spent his most recent seasons in Main scored on his debut, coming on as a Scotland with Motherwell, Aberdeen and St second half substitute in Kerala, but says Mirren, Main’s family are now settled in that he’s looking forward to contributing Glasgow. “My family are currently back home more. The experience of the Kanteerava, he in Glasgow, and when I'm not training I like says, is something that sticks. to spend all my time with my wife and kids. I love travelling, hiking, and generally just “It was great to score on my debut down in being outdoors with nature, regardless of the Kerala, but unfortunately we didn't take any weather.” points. Even away to Mohun Bagan, that was a very difficult match. Our last game at The subject of transfer speculation after a home in front of our fans was great, and I strong run in with St Mirren, Main said his was happy to be able to cap it off with three decision to move to India was ‘huge’ for his points. I'm looking forward to having many family. “This was a great opportunity for me, more great nights in front of the West Block it was a huge decision too. Potentially in the and all of our BFC fans.” future, I want my family to experience this too. I've always wanted to have the experi- ence of playing in a different country. Alongside some very good British clubs, I also had several offers from other countries, but after speaking with Bengaluru FC it felt like a really exciting opportunity and I was delighted to get it over the line.” BFC KEY MEN Ryan Bengaluru FC’s Aussie winger returned to the fray against East Bengal FC, and proved a handful for the Red and Golds’ backline. Williams made 47 Williams sprints and covered a massive 10.3 km in that encounter, and was named Man of the Match for his efforts.His relentless pressing down the left and later down the right made it difficult for Carles Cuadrat’s side to build from the back and was crucial to Bengaluru’s win. Suresh The game against the Gaurs could see Suresh make his comeback to the playing XI after serving his time out due to suspension. His strong Wangjam presence will be important for Simon Grayson’s men to keep control of possession in the middle of the park. El Torito’s commitment to win the ball, coupled with his high levels of energy, could go a long way in helping Bengaluru secure a positive result tonight. Javi Magic on his day, Javi Hernandez’s wonder goal against East Bengal FC was followed by a celebration with the West Block. Hernandez Silky with his feet and with the ability to thread a pass into attack, Javi’s winner came after he picked Chhetri in the box to win the penalty that brought Bengaluru level that night. Much will be expected from the Spaniard tonight. KEY MEN FCG Carlos The Gaurs' new man up front has hit the ground running with Manolo Marquez, whose side are still unbeaten in the League after three games. The Spanish striker has already registered two goal contributions in three starts for Goa and will be the focal point to their attack tonight. Capable of playing in a variety of attacking positions, Martinez's versatility makes for a Martinez difficult task, and the Bengaluru backline will do well to keep their eye on him through the 90. Udanta No stranger to the Kanteerava, Udanta Singh returns to the Fortress for the first time in opposition colours. As much as we’d like to reminisce about the good times, Singh Udanta’s rapid movement on and off the ball will be the bigger picture tonight. The flanks at the Kanteerava have been his home for eight seasons in Bengaluru blue and he’ll be more than one to watch out for. Sandesh He knows a thing or two about the Kanteerava, doesn’t he? Sandesh Jhingan will be crucial to Goa’s efforts against Grayson’s men tonight. Jhingan’s rock-solid presence at the back have been vital to Goa’s fortunes this season so far, and the experience centre-half will look to keep a clean Jhingan sheet on his return to Bengaluru. Class of 23’ FROM THE Things changed for the better when I became a sports journalist in Chennai a little over a FOURTH ESTATE decade ago. I watched IPL and international cricket matches at the Chepauk, Chennai Open tennis, and ISL football to my hearts content. But I missed the camaraderie that came with people around, for Chennai was not a city where I felt at home and reporting on matches seemed a mechanical exercise. It was not until 2016, when I moved back to Bengaluru and started covering BFC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, that I could delicately balance the two. I had friends from college and school who loved the club. While the cardinal rule in sports journalism is to eschew fandom, it didnt stop me from building bonds with fellow scribes who cared for the game. Attending press conferences, making trips to players; training for interviews and soaking in N. SUDARSHAN the euphoria on match-days were and still are among my favourite rituals. And on the odd day, THE HINDU I was at the West Block, chanting and singing along merrily with my friends. This was me As a young boy growing up in Bengaluru in experiencing a past that I had only dreamt of. the late 1990s and early 2000s, watching BFC winning its second I-League crown in 2016, sport in-stadia was a privilege I did not have. the historic 3-1 AFC Cup semifinal against Johor International cricket matches were rare, Darul Ta; zim, the second-leg semifinal win over big-ticket tennis events few and far and a NorthEast United FC in 2019 to reach a second football match-going culture pretty much successive ISL final, the cheeky Sunil Chhetri non-existent. To march to a stadium as a free-kick against Kerala Blasters in the ISL group, live the atmosphere, celebrate the knockout in 2023 and Javi Hernandezs fantastic wins and mourn the losses -- all of it bicycle kick earlier this month, are all moments seemed distant. that will remain etched in my memory. Thus, I ended up watching English Premier There are certainly those who baulk at the League on television, built virtual fan groups quality of Indian football. But sport, stripped to on Orkut and turned my living room into a its mere basics, is a communal activity that congregating centre for all big games. I knew brings people closer. BFC and Kanteerava more about Manchester United than HAL FC. continue to show me that. An ode to Appu October the 29th marks two years to the day since Dr Puneeth Rajkumar, an icon of Karnataka, met an untimely demise. Tonight, the Fortress will mark a tribute to the man, his myth and his legend. As the players walk out, the West Block A have prepared a special banner for the Powerstar, along with a memorial tribute in the 46th minute of the game, to mark his 46 years with us. An actor, philanthropist, playback singer, television presenter and producer, ‘Appu’ worked in Kannada cinema and was the youngest son of actor and matinee idol Dr. Rajkumar. He was one of the most popular actors in Kannada cinema.