Bengaluru took home the inaugural Hero Super Cup as they came from a goal down to comfortably see off East Bengal, although it could be argued that the defining moment of the game in first-half stoppage time when Samad Mallick picked up a straight red card.
Super Cup You Say…
Before we come onto the action, let me explain what the Super Cup is all about in India for those of you that don’t know.
There are two top leagues in India, the Indian Super League and the I-League, essentially, the ISL is to do with franchises and what have you and the I-League has the more ‘traditional’ clubs.
Saying that, Bengaluru are probably the exception to the rule as they transitioned from the I-League to the ISL at the beginning of the season which has just ended. What the Super Cup does is gives the sides from both divisions to play against each other which wouldn’t happen otherwise, so it was only fitting that there was one ISL side and one I-League side in the final.
Bengaluru Were The Odds-On Favourites
Pre-match, the bookies had Bengaluru down as the odds-on favourites and that’s a totally fair assessment because they’ve been unquestionably the best and most consistent side in India this season, bar none.
A counter-argument could be filed with regards to the fact that they lost to Chennaiyin in the ISL final, but that’s not going to wash in this instance. In the final, John Gregory got the better of Bengaluru’s manager, Albert Roca, there are no two ways about it, nonetheless, the level of professionalism shown by Roca throughout this tournament has been outstanding.
A lot of teams, mainly from the ISL weren’t happy with the Super Cup as it came after the domestic leagues had finished and the organisation of it was pretty poor if we’re being honest with one another, however, it wasn’t helped when you’ve got the likes of the aforementioned John Gregory saying “we’ve got another name for it” when asked about the Super Cup.
What that meant was that some sides didn’t field full-strength sides which put a slight dampener on it, but Roca went for it from the get-go and lo & behold the won the whole thing. Now to the game itself.
Kroma Left Gurpreet In A Load Of Dudu
Ansumana Kromah was favoured to Dudu up to by East Bengal head-coach Khalid Jamil, though, that probably had something to do with Dudu picking up a knock in their semi-final victory versus FC Goa more than anything else. Either way, Kromah repaid Jamil’s faith as he got East Bengal off to the best possible start.
Katsumi whipped a corner in from the right-hand side into a dangerous area where Gurpreet could do nothing more than get a weak hand to it. It fell to Kromah who had his back to goal, overhead kick, see you later, 1-0. Great goal. Poor goalkeeping.
Prior to Kromah giving East Bengal the lead, Gurpreet and John Johnson were both booked, there’s a reason why I’m telling you this, more to follow. Rahul Bheke drew Bengaluru level with a sublime header from Victor Perez’ corner, saying that, if East Bengal had someone on the post, chances are it would’ve been cleared off the line. Such is the wonder of hindsight.
What Was Mallick Thinking?
Bheke’s goal went in five minutes before the interval so it looked like it would be level pegging at the break and scoreline wise it was, player count wise, it was not. I’m not too sure what Mallick was thinking.
I’ve done some stupid things in my time, but nothing quite as reckless as this. The ball went harmlessly out of play and he decided to elbow Subhasish Bose in the face and the worst thing is, he wasn’t even coy about it. It was almost as if he wanted to get sent off. Weird.
After the break, Bengaluru were clearly the team in the driving seat as the extra man was making a massive difference but they couldn’t quite break the I-League side down and it wasn’t anything to do with a lack of trying.
What Was Gurwinder Thinking?
Once fifteen minutes had passed by in the second-half, Roca thought it was best to earn his money as he took off holding-midfielder, Erik Paartalu and introduced the more attack-minded Toni Dovale.
Eight minutes later and the ‘Blues’ were in the lead. A careless handball from Gurwinder in the penalty area meant that Chhetri had the opportunity to add to his tally for the tournament. He did so with ease as he sent Ubaid the wrong way and from that moment onwards, there was never any doubt as to who was come away with the trophy.
Only two minutes later, Miku made it three as Victor Perez was the provider once again, the Spaniard played a perfectly weighted ball into Miku who took one touch to set and then rifled it in the top corner. It was the pick of the goals from the game and considering Kromah’s was an overhead kick, that should give you some idea as to how good it was.
What Was The Ref Thinking?
Just before the game was to enter stoppage time, John Johnson got booked again. Now, what should’ve followed was a red card as it was his second booking, nope. Quite how he stayed on the pitch, I am at a loss. Surely that’s the whole point of the referee’s notebook? No idea.
Shortly after Johnson’s red card that never was, Chhetri made it four as he somehow scored with a header. The bloke is 5”5 and he beat a defender in the air following Bheke’s excellent cross. 4-1, game over.
Bengaluru quite rightly lifted the trophy as they made it five trophies in five years since the club was founded back in 2013. Bengaluru’s class shone through in the end, however, you have to feel East Bengal didn’t help themselves with the red card and penalty, on another day maybe it would’ve been different.
Top Flight Domestic Football Has Come To An End
That’s it for now, top-flight Indian football will be back with us in roughly six months, until then, we have to make do with the second division which contains some ISL reserve teams and some teams looking to make it to the I-League. We’ll go through that in more detail at some point.
Until the next time.