Tag: Udanta Singh

ISL 5: Bheke strike hands Bengaluru 2-1 win over Pune

Bengaluru: It was the late, late show once again as Bengaluru FC became the first Indian Super League side to win six games in a row, beating FC Pune City 2-1 at the Fortress in what was a clash for the stands, at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Friday. Udanta Singh’s stunning opener (11′) was levelled with a Rahul Bheke own goal (15′) before the defender redeemed himself with a late strike (88’), his second in three games, to give Carles Cuadrat all three points.

Otherwise cautious starters, Bengaluru seemed in the mood from the get-go and Udanta chose an absolute stunner in the 11th minute for his second goal in as many games. Picking a pass from Harmajot Khabra, Udanta charged into the Pune box, sold Chhuantea a dummy and after sending his former teammate the wrong way, smashed the ball into the roof with his left.

Bengaluru could have gone two up a couple of minutes later when Chencho Gyeltshen’s goal-bound shot took deflections from defender Matt Mills and then goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh before going out for a corner.

But it took all of four minutes after conceding for Pune to get back on level terms, albeit with a little help from a Bengaluru shirt after Rahul Bheke turned a Marko Stankovic cross into his own goal at the near post.

Earlier, Bengaluru started with Rahul Bheke and Harmanjot Khabra in defensive positions with Albert Serran ruled out, having sustained a thigh injury in the previous clash against Delhi Dynamos. Midfielder Dimas Delgado returned to the starting eleven after serving his one-game suspension, in a midfield trio that included him, Xisco Hernandez and Erik Paartalu.

The unfortunate equaliser did nothing but spur Bengaluru to attack with even more gusto and how the half ended 1-1 will still take some explaining from the Blues. Bengaluru could have well scored the team goal of the season when Erik Paartalu’s overhead clearance in the Blues box sparked a swift counter that saw Udanta, Dimas, Xisco and Chencho play their part in getting the ball to Chhetri only to see the captain’s shot on target kept out by Kamaljit. This was before an unmarked Chencho sent a looping header over the bar from ten yards out.

With the ball refusing to roll in from close, Bengaluru decided to try from distance when Chhetri laid the ball off for Erik Paartalu to smash from twenty five yards out in the 45th minute. The hit flew fast and hard only come crashing off the crossbar, capping off a frustrating half for the home side.

Cuadrat brought on Semboi Haokip for Chencho a little over the hour mark, but Bengaluru’s luck refused to alter. With twenty minutes to play, Udanta found himself with the ball in the box, skipped past his man and fired against the angle of the post once again. But, with the minutes ticking out, the stands came alive once again, spurring the Blues into a flurry of attacks.

After shots from Chhetri and Xisco had been blocked, Nishu picked up a clearance from a corner before lobbing it deep into the area for Khabra, who acrobatically volleyed over Kamaljit and his defenders to find Bheke unmarked. The defender would make no mistake from two yards out, slotting home to give Bengaluru a lead they would protect until the very end.

The win sent Bengaluru five points clear at the top, despite playing a game lesser than second placed FC Goa. The Blues travel to Guwahati next, where they take on NorthEast United on December 5th.

AFC Cup 2018: Brave Bengaluru take the fight to Turkmenistan

Bengaluru: What seemed like a tie that was done and dusted sprang back to life after Bengaluru produced an inspired second-half comeback against Turkmenistan side Altyn Asyr in the first leg of the AFC Cup Inter-Zone semifinal at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday. The Blues conceded three goals, before scoring two of their own to take a 2-3 result to Ashgabat for the second leg, set to be played in seven days’ time.

With an ill Harmanjot Khabra having to sit out of the game, Cuadrat started with Rino Anto at the right-back position while Xisco Hernandez made his Bengaluru debut, playing in the middle.

The visitors couldn’t have asked for a better start away from home when Vahyt beat the last line of defence and rose to nod home Nurmyradov Selim’s cross from the right in the 11th minute.

The Blues looked almost certain of squaring things up in the 15th minute when Chhetri was picked with a precise cross from Miku. The skipper measured the flight and picked his spot with a calm header only for ’Orazmuhamedov Mamed to clear the ball with an outstretched left foot.

Just when Bengaluru looked like getting back into the game, Altyn Asyr got a second through Altymyrat in the 24th minute. The leading scorer of the Turkmenistan side’s AFC Cup campaign, Altymyrat managed to sneak in a low but powerful hit past Sandhu at the near post.

Not allowing the deficit to kill their resolve of a fightback, Bengaluru gave the Altyn Asyr defence an edgy last ten minutes in the first half where Miku, Chhetri and Nishu had chances stuffed out by desperate blue shirts in the box.

Things slipped further for Bengaluru soon after the second half began when Vahyt got his second and Altyn Asyr’s third goal of the night. Sandhu had an uncharacteristically weak moment allowing Vahyt’s to roll past from under him.

With little to lose, Bengaluru kept plugging away as Udanta Sigh made life difficult for Altyn Asyr’s men on the left. The visitors seemed happy to sit back and defend in numbers as Bengaluru moved the ball all around, prodding for an opening. The Blues finally got one back in the 63rd minute when Bheke smashed home from in the box. Chhetri’s header from Udanta’s cross smashed the post only to bounce back to Bheke who wouldn’t miss.

The goal breathed fresh life into Bengaluru’s charge as they got into a rhythm that Altyn Asyr found tough to handle. The defending was frenetic at best but just enough to keep Miku, Udanta and a host of white shirts at bay.

Bengaluru were left feeling hard done when they thought they had two shouts for what looked like legitimate penalties, turned down by referee Iida Jumpei. But the Blues piled on the pressure, finding a second through Erik Paartalu. With Xisco’s initial cross headed out of the Altyn box, Udanta picked up the pieces and swung in a second that was nodded home by the Aussie.

The Blues fly to Ashgabat, where they will take on the Turkmenistan champions on August 29th, at the Kopetdag Stadium.

I haven’t reached the stature to inspire international players: Chhetri

MUMBAI: Even as Chinese Taipei coach Gary White feels that his “youngsters will look up to Sunil Chhetri someday,” the Indian National Team Captain felt he hasn’t yet attained the stature where International Footballers will “look up to him.”

“I feel I haven’t yet reached that stature where International Footballers will look up to me,” he smiled. “At this moment, I am more concerned about myself and my career. Maybe 20 years from now with me having retired, I may reflect back whether I have inspired someone or not. But right now, it’s too premature,” the man with 99 International caps sounded humble.

Sitting pretty at 59 goals in International Football, Chhetri on Friday, also became the first-ever Indian Footballer to have scored three hat-tricks in International Football surpassing Appalaraju and IM Vijayan, both of whom had two hat-tricks to their credit.

Speaking about his telepathy with fellow striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, Chhetri who has scored 15 goals in the 25 matches under Coach Stephen Constantine attributed it to the duo having “played together” for long.

“The understanding comes from the fact that we have played many games together. Jeje is a supremely talented player. He really works hard on his game and is one of our best players. I try my best to help him and vice versa,” Chhetri said in one breath. “Two of my goals today (against Chinese Taipei) came off Jeje’s pass. He is a very strong player who can hold defenders. My job becomes easier when he is around.”

There’s however, a sentiment that Chhetri doesn’t celebrate his goals as much as his fans would love him too. “I feel extremely happy when I score. I am very fortunate to have played and scored for teams, both at the International level and at the Club level. I value my goals very much,” he reflected.

“Right after the game Udanta (Singh) was in the ice-bath and I congratulated him for scoring his first-ever International goal. Yeah, I am very fond of him but I told him: ‘Congrats boy. But 58 more to go.”

Players need to utilise opportunity to cement place in squad: Chhetri

NEW DELHI: ‘Talismanic’ Captain Sunil Chhetri feels the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 will help in understanding “where we lie as players and areas we need to improve.” As the Senior National Team prepares in Mumbai for India’s forthcoming AFC Asian Cup Qualifier against Myanmar slated for November 14, Chhetri, the highest Indian goal scorer in International Football with 55 goals spoke at length about future megastars of Indian Football, the last two years with Indian Football, the road forward and even his “regrets.” EXCERPTS:

You have played a major role in qualification to two AFC Asian Cups for India. Where do you rate it in your illustrious career?

It will be among the highest achievements. The memories of Doha 2011 will stay with me forever. It’s the top-most tournament in Asia and qualification was not just on my priority list, but for the entire squad. But I do have regrets too.

Regrets?

(Takes a deep breath) The last time when we couldn’t qualify for the 2015 edition which was held in Australia. I was really very sad. The regrets of not qualifying still linger and if anybody is to be blamed, it had to be us — the players.

What will the 2019 edition of the AFC Asian Cup provide for Indian Football?

It will help us in gauging ourselves as to where we lie as players and the areas we need to improve. That’s of paramount importance as Indian Football moves forward. The movement forward needs to be a continuous process and the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 will allow us to rub shoulders with the best in Asia.

There has been the arrival of a new breed of players in the National Team like Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Sandesh Jhingan, Udanta Singh amongst others. Are they the next megastars of Indian Football?

I really hope so. I will always put my money on them. In fact, I will be very disappointed if the trio doesn’t dominate Indian Football for the next decade. I also hope they get tough competition, with the U-17 and the U-16 squads pushing them further. Those batches are doing well for us too.

The present team is a new set playing together for 2 years now. What do they need to better themselves as players?

Maybe the Coach and the respective players can answer it better as to how they can improve as players.

But yeah, the players need to improve and that has always been my mentality. There is a lot of potentials which stays unachieved and if isn’t attained, it’s Indian Football’s loss.

For an outside point of view, I hope the players utilise their opportunity to cement their place in the squad. At the same time, there always needs to be a healthy competition from the bench to take the places in the starting XI. The process will only help Indian Football to get further stability.

Which has been your most satisfying moment in the last two years with the National Team?

It may sound weird but the triumph in the SAFF Cup was very significant. We were severely hit by injuries and missed a lot of seasoned pros. Winning with newcomers was indeed satisfying. Moreover, it was all about the rivalry with Afghanistan and had they won it, they would have taken the title forever.

In addition, the victory against the Kyrgyzstan in Bengaluru was special too. They are a very good side and we had to dig deep. I have since watched the match many times and feel proud every time about the manner it was achieved.

AFC Cup: Bengaluru FC go down fighting to Istiklol

Dushanbe, Tajikistan: Bengaluru FC fought hard, but were done in by dubious decisions at the end, as they went down 0-1 to a resolute FC Istiklol side in the first leg of the 2017 AFC Cup Inter-zone final at the Hisor Central Stadium, in Dushanbe, on Wednesday.

A first half goal from Dmitri Barkov (27th minute) puts Istiklol in the driving seat with Bengaluru FC having all to play for in the second leg at home, to be played on October 18.

Collin Abranches started ahead of Harmanjot Khabra at right-back in the only change that Albert Roca rung in from the side that held 4.25 SC to a draw away in DPR Korea.

The Blues got things off to an impressive start, defending with calm and pegging Istiklol back with swift counter attacks. But the home side made the most of a lapse in focus from Bengaluru when Dmitri Barkov met Fathuloev Fathullo’s cross from the right with a fantastic diving header to make it 1-0 in the 27th minute.

Sunil Chhetri soon had a chance to pull one back after being set up by Lenny Rodrigues but the skipper dragged his shot wide. At the other end, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu denied Ehsoni Panshanbe with a fantastic save to keep Bengaluru in the game at half time.

The second half saw Bengaluru FC keep more possession of the ball while trying to penetrate through the Istiklol defense. The hosts meanwhile, opted to push up on swift counter attacks, and one such move earned them a free-kick in a decent area just outside the box on the right in the 52nd minute. However, once again it was Gurpreet who pulled off another diving save to keep the score at 1-0.

A little over the hour mark, Roca threw in Khabra for Abranches and Daniel Lalhlimpuia for Toni Dovale as Bengaluru began putting Istiklol under pressure. Udanta Singh was throwing his pace at the defence but the hosts managed to stuff out any chance of a final ball.

The final quarter of the game saw some end-to-end action with both sides going all-out attack. Chhetri was once again the target man inside the box, but the skipper lacked the finishing touch inside the box.

With the Blues putting their bodies on the line in the final few minutes of the game, a quick counter attack right at the death almost changed the game. Udanta set on a solo and sprinted past a host of defenders down the left flank. His powerful drive was saved by the keeper and the rebound fell for Chhetri whose shot was clearly handled inside the box by a defender.

However, the referee waived play-on despite multiple protests by the Blues in the game’s most decisive moment with the final whistle blowing seconds later.

Speaking at the end of the game, Blues’ skipper Sunil Chhetri said, “We played very well in the second half and I think we deserved a goal. But it’s only one goal and we have all to play for in the second leg at home.”

AFC Cup: Bengaluru seal 3-0 aggregate win over 4.25 SC

 

Pyongyang, DPR Korea: Bengaluru FC kept their calm to hold on to a three-goal lead from the first leg to seal an aggregate win (3-0) after a goalless draw against 4.25 SC, at the May Day Stadium, in Pyongyang, on Wednesday. The result secures a place for the Blues in the Inter-zone final of the 2017 AFC Cup, where they are set to face Tajik side FC Istiklol in a two-legged affair.

While the game lacked goals, it was custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who impressed with some brilliant work under the bar for the Blues. The Punjabi-lad pulled off a crucial second half penalty save, as Albert Roca’s side extended their clean-sheet streak to three games in the competition, the longest in four years.

Going into the second leg, Roca opted to field an unchanged XI from the first leg with skipper Sunil Chhetri, Antonio Dovale and Udanta Singh leading the front line while Spaniard Dimas Delgado marshalled midfield.

The game, played on the artificial turf of the massive May Day Stadium, was a contrast to the first leg, where the Blues had dominated proceedings for majority of the night. In Pyongyang, Bengaluru were edged out in terms of possession and chances, but made up for with a stubborn defense as Gurpreet, Juanan Gonzalez, Rahul Bheke, Harmanjot Khabra and Nishu Kumar, who was later replaced by Subhasish Bose kept the 4.25 SC attack at bay.

While the first half saw Bengaluru create a few half chances, most notably through Toni Dovale, the hosts managed to control the game. With a sizeable turnout egging for the home side to attack, the Blues did well to arrive at the break with the scores unchanged.

Bengaluru were forced to sit deep and defend in the second half as tournament top-scorer Kim Yu Song almost gave 4.25 SC the lead in the 57th minute with a header, but it was Gurpreet once again who denied the striker. As the game progressed, Hwang Yong Song’s side continued to attack and substitute An Il-Bom who came on in the 61st minute, forced the Blues custodian into another brilliant diving save in the 70th.

The hosts continued to mount persistent attacks on the Blues’ back-line, passing the ball well while switching play efficiently to keep the pressure on. For Bengaluru, it was Man-of-the-Match Gurpreet who did well to command his defenders and the rest of the team, who dropped deep to help thwart the Korean side’s attack.

Into the final quarter of the game, 4.25 had the best chance to break the deadlock as Rahul Bheke brought down Bom inside the box in the 77th minute, prompting referee Wang Di to point to the spot. However, Gurpreet dived to his right denying midfielder Ri Hyong Jin’s effort from 12 yards.

The pressure culminated into another chance in the dying moments of the game, as midfielder Won Song hit the crossbar with an effort from 20-yards out but it wasn’t to be for the home side.

“They dominated majority of the game and deserved to win. But at the same time, we defended very well as a team and managed to hold on to our lead from the first leg. We are happy to have made it through and now look to get back to Bengaluru and prepare for the big game against FC Istiklol,” Roca said, speaking at the post-match press conference.

For their part, the Blues had to overcome numerous hurdles to get through – some on field, some off of it. While their travel plans were initially delayed due to Foundation Day Celebrations in DPR Korea, part of the luggage went missing in transit when they finally made it through to Pyongyang on Monday. With 15 bags of kits and equipment arriving just a day before the game, the Blues had to train in makeshift gear on the eve of the clash.

Up next in the Inter-zone final for Bengaluru FC will be Dushanbe-based Tajikistan side FC Istiklol who overcame Philippines’ Ceres Negros FC 5-1 (agg.) in the other two-legged Inter-zone semifinal. The first leg will be played away on September 27th, while the return leg at the Kanteerava Stadium is scheduled for October 18th.

India accomplish mission Macau by 2-0

MACAU: India took a giant step towards qualification for the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 when they registered a 0 – 2 win over Macau in an away match at the Olympic Stadium in Macau tonight (September 5, 2017).

In what was a totally one-sided contest, substitute Balwant Singh scored a brace with a header in the 57th minute and poacher’s goal in the 81st minute after a mix-up by the Macau back line.

This was India’s third successive victory and they sit pretty on top of Group A with 9 points. India are scheduled to face the same opponents on October 10 in the return fixture in India.

India started on a positive note as Macau seemed to be happy sitting back. Udanta and Narayan Das found ample space on the wings but the hosts managed to keep the crosses out.

Both Sunil and Jeje were heavily marked with their efforts finding the legs of the opposition defense.

Indian midfielders were dictating the game as they found acres of space near the box. Jeje cut in from the left but Sunil’s powerful shot was blocked out. Narzary showed some deft footwork as he twisted and turned but his shot was kept out by the keeper.

A flurry in the 36th minute saw Nazary and Rowllin combining well but the clearance made its way to Eugeneson whose long ranger hit the crossbar. Rowllin latched on to the rebound but his shot too was saved by the goalkeeper.

A couple more chances came India’s way with Jeje’s header landing on the roof of the net while Narzary’s perfect cross was met by Sunil only to be blocked out by the desperate Macauan defense.

India did have their chances and poor finishing robbed them of an early lead. Macau were also lucky when the crosspiece came to their rescue in the first half as the boys went into the break goal-less.

Constantine opted to introduce Balwant Singh after the break having withdrawn Eugenson Lyngdoh who saw his effort strike the crossbar in the 36th minute of the first-half.

Balwant’s introduction was just what the doctor ordered as he made an impact straightaway troubling the Macau backline. Pritam Kotal’s cross to him was headed just wide.

Also in the second half, a Sunil Chhetri header off a Pritam Kotal cross bounced off the crosspiece and then dropped on the goal line only to be collected by the rival goalkeeper.

A goal seemed ominous and it did arrive in the 57th minute when Balwant found the back of the net with a rising header as he met Narayan Das’ perfect ball into the box.

Balwant scoring his second goal for the national team after having scored his first against Mauritius in the recently concluded Tri-Nation series.

Sunil Chhetri came close on few occasions but it just wasn’t his night when he saw another of his efforts being saved. Balwant could have had his second minutes later, but his effort found the side-netting.

The misery for the host side was compounded when a terrible error by a defender led to Balwant capitalising on the goof-up and thus double the lead for India in the 81st minute.

Thus scoring his third goal in as many games since his reintroduction to the national team.

The men at the back too kept things tidy, although they didn’t have much to do with Macau adopting an ultra-defensive strategy all throughout and were never willing to open up.

AFC Cup: Bengaluru dance in the rain, blank 4.25 SC 3-0

 

Bengaluru: Bengaluru FC showed absolutely no signs of rust or lack of time to prepare as Albert Roca’s side turned on the style to beat North Korean side 4.25 SC 3-0 and take a big step towards the Inter-zone final on a rain-soaked night at the Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday.

Goals on either side of the break by skipper Sunil Chhetri (32nd minute, Penalty) and Udanta Singh (51st) put the Blues 2-0 up before Lenny Rodrigues joined the party with a goal in the 77th minute to give the Blues a massive advantage ahead of the away leg on September 13 in Pyongyang.

Head Coach Albert Roca handed debuts to five new signings with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Rahul Bheke, Dimas Delgado, Erik Paartalu and Antonio Dovale all featuring in the starting XI.

The Blues went on attack mode right from the word go as Udanta intercepted a pass in the rival half and attempted a shot in the first minute itself which was saved by the 4.25 SC custodian. Thereafter, visitors 4.25 SC had a spell of possession where they tried to make inroads into the Blues’ box, only to be thwarted by Roca’s boys.

Having had half-chances for most part of the first half, an intelligent move around the half-hour mark opened up the rival defence and handed Bengaluru their first goal. Juanan with a long diagonal ball found Harmanjot Khabra on the flank who headed it into box for Udanta whose pace was too much for the rival keeper to handle as he brought the youngster down. Chhetri then coolly chipped in the resultant penalty kick for his third goal of the competition to hand the Blues a 1-0 l ead.                                         

Bengaluru continued to push up and almost doubled their lead three minutes from the break. Chhetri timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap on a lobbed pass inside the box. The skipper controlled the ball and tried to chip an onrushing keeper who got a deft touch to divert it for a corner. The half ended with Bengaluru firmly in charge and a goal up.

The Blues got off to the perfect start in the second half doubling their lead six minutes in. Udanta, once again, intelligently intercepted a pass on the right before running solo and making no mistake to slot home past Ri Kang in the rival goal.

The visitors created a few chances of their own, but the Blues’ backline led by ’keeper Gurpreet held firm under the torrential downpour. Midway through the half, Lenny almost pulled off a blinder. His pile driver from 30-yards out was headed for the roof of the goal, only for the keeper to palm it over.

With incessant rain pouring down, both sides were finding it difficult to control the game; however, the Blues adjusted to the water-logged pitch much better which translated into another goal. A quick release by Dovale down the left saw Chhetri run clear and float in a delightful cross to Lenny, who timed his run well at the far post to slide the ball home and seal the game.

Substitute Daniel Lalhlimpuia had a chance late on to get his name on the scoresheet, but he somehow scuffed his shot wide from inside the box as the game ended 3-0.

Sandesh should be playing in bigger league says Constantine

 

MUMBAI: As India gear up for the second match in the International tri-series against St Kitts and Nevis to be played at the Mumbai Football Arena on August 24, Coach Stephen Constantine lavished huge praise on the newly-appointed captain Sandesh Jhingan.

“The captain has to reflect the character of the team. He has to set the tone of the team. Sandesh is a fighter like me who loves to lead the side from the front,” Constantine said.

Jhingan, who leads the crop of the new breed of Indian Footballers had made his debut for India against Nepal, which was Constantine’s first match as a Coach in his second stint.

“Sandesh to me a player who should be playing is a bigger league,” Constantine certified.

The defender par excellence, wasn’t too much willing to be over the moon. “Playing for your Country is itself a great honour and here I am, leading my Country,” he stated.

Jhingan has played a stellar role in the Indian back-four along with Anas Etathodika, Pritam Kotal, Narayan Das and Gurpreet Sandhu (in goal) in helping India create a new record for Indian Football in winning nine International matches (including the un-official match against Bhutan).

Constantine further went to say that Sandesh is a one of the ‘leaders for the future.’

“In coming days, at least we can identify Sandesh as a leader once Sunil hangs his boots,” he maintained.

Meanwhile, Chhetri, along with Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Udanta Singh will be joining the National Camp after Bengaluru FC’s AFC Cup stint.

India have won two of their two matches in the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers against Myanmar (away) and Kyrgyzstan (at home) and will face Macau on September 5 (in Macau).

Bengaluru FC sign Aussie midfielder Paartalu

Bengaluru: Less than a week after retaining Sunil Chhetri and Udanta Singh, Bengaluru FC have added to their arsenal in signing Australian midfielder Erik Paartalu on a season-long deal. The Blues have also retained defender Juanan Gonzalez who will join John Johnson for another season at the heart of Bengaluru’s defence.

Towering at 6’4″, Sydney-born Paartalu began his career in the National Soccer League, now the A-League, with Northern Spirit. His stints in Australia included three seasons with Brisbane Roar when they played AFC Champions League football. At Brisbane, Paartalu won two Championships and one Premiership and played 85 consecutive matches while setting an Australian record of any sporting code with an unbeaten streak of 36 games.

Paartalu moved to Chinese side Tianjin TEDA FC in 2013 before a switch to Thailand with Muangthong United the following year. He was also part of South Korean side Jeonbuk Hyundai for a brief period in the season that side went on to win the AFC Champions League.

The midfielder earned his first senior national team cap in 2012, playing in a World Cup Qualifier for the ‘Socceroos’ against Saudi Arabia.

“I was really excited by the Bengaluru FC project because it is a club that’s doing really well for itself in an expanding market. Indian football is getting bigger and bigger. It felt like the right project to get involved with. I spoke with Cameron Watson and he sold it to me in terms of where the club is. They’ve been very successful in the last four years and are looking to make major steps in the Indian Super League,” said Paartalu.

The 31-year-old was confident that his experience in AFC competition will prove handy for the Blues who are gearing up for their inter-zone semifinal in the AFC Cup against North Korean side 4.25 SC on August 23.

“I’ve played in a lot of countries in Asia so that experience is invaluable when it comes to playing games on different continents with short turnarounds. Being 31, I’ve experienced football for a long time and playing in the AFC Cup will definitely suit me. I look forward to playing in the ISL and I know I can do well in the League with a good team around me.”

Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca said he was confident of Paartalu bringing his experience to the table as the club attempts to rebuild the squad this season. “A lot of things change for us this season and experience is what will play a key role during this phase. Erik brings that kind of experience with him and I’m certain he will be a vital figure at Bengaluru FC,” said Roca.