NEW DELHI: October 19, 2016 was a historic day for Football in India after JSW Bengaluru FC scripted history and became the first Indian Club to qualify for the AFC Cup Final after defeating Malaysian heavyweights and defending Champions Johor Darul Ta’zim 3-1 in the second leg of the fixture at the Kanteerava Stadium, clinching the tie 4-2 on aggregate.
With JSW Bengaluru FC’s date with destiny in the AFC Cup Final set up against Iraq’s Air Force Club in Doha, Qatar on November 05, 2016, the Indian Footballing fraternity joined hands to support the Albert Roca coached Team in its quest to make the history books. Roca even said that it will “trigger a new era for Indian Football.”
The build-up to the AFC Cup Final was huge, fitting the gravity of the scenario and AIFF President Mr. Praful Patel travelled to Doha personally to witness a new chapter of Indian Football being written.
The Doha dream however failed by a whisker to be fulfilled as JSW Bengaluru FC lost the Final by a solitary goal, but not before making the whole Nation proud on the elite stage of Club Football in Asia.
AFC President Dato Windsor John dubbed JSW Bengaluru FC’s run in the AFC Cup as an “indication of strides taken by Indian Football.”
“I see Bengaluru FC’s achievement reaching the AFC Cup final, played on November 5, 2016, in Doha, Qatar, as an indication of the strides Indian Football has taken in recent years. It is also a very positive sign for Asian football”, Dato Windsor had told.
Fans from Bengaluru even travelled in numbers to Doha and Indian based in Doha jousted in unison to give an Indian atmosphere to an Indian Club playing on foreign soil.
Despite them losing the Finals, JSW Bengaluru FC ensured their competitiveness and made a statement that Indian Clubs are no more pushovers in elite Asian Football.