The 2-1 Win Against Pune On Friday May Have Been The Fourth Time This Season The Blues Have Won With An Identical Scoreline. But This One Game Gave Us So Much More To Talk About Than The Rest Put Together…
This Afterthought, let’s talk about a few things and more.
Let’s talk about Harmanjot Khabra and nominations for the best moments in the ‘how bad you want it’ category. He didn’t have one, there were two. Of course, you will remember the lunge and the volley for the assist that won the game, and so you should. Nishu Kumar, in picking out Khabra’s run, threw Bengaluru a rope, and the right-back, in a display of raw fortitude, tied a massive knot at the end of it from which the Blues could hang on. It was the sweetest connect on an assist we’ve seen. But it wasn’t the only one. When you score a goal like Udanta did, it’s easy to blank out the build-up to it. Gifs ideally work best when they are two to six seconds long – so the internet tells us – and you’d want to invest every one of those seconds in watching the winger send Lalchhuanmawia the other way before shaking the roof of the Pune goal from the inside, with a left foot that served as a cannon. But rewind a little more and you’ll find Dimas Delgado putting just enough weight on his chip for Khabra to dart down and literally drag the ball back from the dead on the line. He’d then pick Udanta before fading away. Job done.
Let’s talk about Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and empathy. Bheke’s effort betrayed his intention when he turned a cross from Marko Stankovic into his own goal. If Udanta’s finish, four minutes ago, was the punch that floored Pune, Bheke’s outstretched leg picked them right up. Who said anything about a helping hand? The defender got back on his feet, gazed into the abyss and then blinked once in despair. Timing is everything, and while Bheke got it wrong, Gurpreet was flawless with it. Just when it seemed the defender would let the pitch swallow him up, his ’keeper ran up to him, held his arm with one hand and placed the other on his head. The big glove was reassuring and it’s just what Bheke needed. Sandhu swallowed the anguish of a clean sheet smeared. His teammate’s sorrow was bigger than his and it needed tending to.
Let’s talk about Chencho Gyeltshen and better versions. The Bhutanese walks into training with a smile even while knowing he’s up against Miku, Chhetri and Udanta, every single day. Yet, he’s been patient, has put his head down and worked his socks off, never once moaning about what could have been, elsewhere. An injury to Miku isn’t the way he would have liked to take the Venezuelan’s spot, but he’s been looking at it as a responsibility – a chance to matter. Let’s call a spade a spade here. He fluffed his lines in Goa, and Delhi at home was mildly better. But on Friday against Pune, the dragon began snorting out small flames with the promise of more.
Let’s talk about the West Block and warm receptions. There was the welcome for Carles Cuadrat as was there one for Gerard Zaragoza. There was also one for Pradhyum Reddy. The former Blues’ assistant had more than just a hand in putting together the first-ever squad for the club in 2013. By the time Ashley Westwood arrived, Reddy had the groundwork with the Indian players covered. He may have been hollering instructions to white shirts at the Kanteerava on Friday, but that wasn’t reason enough to forget his contribution to Bengaluru Football Club. The stands applauded and he promptly returned the love with a clap of his own.
Let’s talk about Carles Cuadrat and eloquence. The Blues’ boss is as articulate with his style of play, as he is in front of the microphone at press conferences. From within the confines of his technical area on the pitch and behind the wooden cover of a table at interactions with the media, Cuadrat knows exactly what he wants to convey and almost every time, it’s delightful. But the one that’s staying with us for a long time from now is his reaction on being asked how big an influence Dimas Delgado really is. To quote Cuadrat – “In every game he plays, Dimas Delgado is handing out a lesson on how to play football.” Talk about giving an honest view a smattering of gold dust.
Let’s talk about Sunil Chhetri and celebrations. Yes, Sunil Chhetri and celebrations. We’ve stopped cornering him about his pure disinterest in doing something quirky or even something simple but consistently, every time he sticks it in the back of the net. His indifference in answering the query matches his lack of imagination when it comes to signing off a goal. Roll back to as recently as Monday. Udanta Singh has rifled the ball home in what is an 87th minute winner against Delhi and obviously there’s a pile-up of blue shirts at corner. But Chhetri runs to get the ball from the back of Albino Gomes’ net. Why? But on Friday, that changed. And it changed so much that for two complete days, Chhetri has been telling all and sundry that he celebrated the goal and the win. He even had a very random ‘come on!’ while walking the square at UB City where a few of the boys were headed for dinner that night.
Let’s talk about Rahul Bheke and a hug that turned out to be more than just that. We’re certain there are more than just a few around who want to know the backstory to when Bheke ran and clung on to Chencho after scoring the winner. Like always, we have you covered. Turns out, the bench began giving the defender some stick about how he needs to celebrate with them if he ended up scoring on the night. The moment Bheke scored, he remembered the request, brushed aside the happy advances of everyone on the pitch and raced to the bench only to discover that the lot was warming up behind the advert boards, spare Chencho. He saw the Bhutanese, he hugged the Bhutanese. But what was a hug of convenience, turned out to be very special in a matter of seconds. “I found Chencho and gave him a hug, but I could feel that moment meant so much more to him. He said a quick thank you given he’d missed a few chances and that my goal would ease some of the flak he would have got if things ended 1-1. The hug changed meaning for me at that moment,” recalls Bheke.
We’d end this here, but that would be injustice to those who turned up and turned it up at the Fortress once again on Friday night. When Pune bodies and the woodwork seemed to attract every Bengaluru FC shot, Carles swivelled on his spot and raised his hands to rally his troops together. When asked about it at the post-match press conference, the boss shrugged; “It worked once when nothing else was working. So I thought, why not once again?”
We’ll talk again, soon.