September 30 - A day of redemption and initiation for champions Bengaluru
Everything great starts with the first step and in football, every triumph begins with the first win. In that context, September 30 will always be a memorable one for Bengaluru FC as the day which laid the foundation for them to eventually go on and win the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 trophy. Exactly one year prior to today, the Blues overcame Chennaiyin FC in a bitter South Indian Derby to win their first match of the Hero ISL 2018-19 season - a victory which would prove both to be their redemption and the initiation of their road to the championship.
With Hero ISL 2018-19 kicking off with the proverbial clash of the titans, ATK hosting Kerala Blasters FC, at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata, Matchday 2 of last season saw Bengaluru FC welcome neighbouring rivals Chennaiyin FC to the Sree Kanteerava Stadium for both team's first match of the competition and also the first South Indian Derby of the season. The tie's implication, however, far exceeded the traditional tropes which has already attached so much significance to the fixture out of the bat.
To recall, Bengaluru's first season in the Hero ISL back in 2017-18 ended as a 'so close yet so far' affair after a heartbreaking loss to their bitter rivals across the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border. After laying waste to all opponents and topping the league, Bengaluru faltered against Chennaiyin in the final and that too in their own fortress at the Kanteerava.
The previous result only amplified the stakes of the match and as the teams took the field on September 30, 2018, the tension was palpable both among the players and the fans. Despite the season only getting started, there was an underlying feeling that the match may very well shape their season, and so it did.
Going with the occasion, the match turned out to be a tense affair with only a moment of brilliance from Bengaluru's Venezuelan striker Miku dividing the two teams on the night.
The win, despite a narrow one, proved crucial for Bengaluru as they exorcised the demons of the previous season against the same opponents who subjected them to the massive heartbreak and more significantly, a long wait for a chance at redemption. With the first big emotional hurdle cleared, Bengaluru went on an 11-match unbeaten run to more or less assure themselves a spot in the semis and eventually went on to lift the title which eluded them so tragically in the 2017-18 season.
For Chennaiyin, on the other hand, the loss was just the first of a six-match winless run in a season which saw them start as defending champions and end as the bottom-placed team in the league.
The two sides are set to meet for the first time in Hero ISL 2019-20 on November 10 and this time the preceding scripts will be switched with Chennaiyin looking for their own version of redemption and Bengaluru aiming to retain their ‘champions’ tag. Do you think the match will initiate another chapter in the epic Bengaluru-Chennaiyin rivalry?