Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC: ISL’s biggest rivalry – where it all began

Perhaps the biggest rivalry in Indian Super League, Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC is one of the most anticipated game of the season

Perhaps the biggest rivalry in Indian Super League, Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC is one of the most anticipated game of the season and comes at a time when the league has just begun to settle in to a dull phase.

For long, India had the legendary Kolkata derby to boast about whenever there was a talk about Indian’s craze for the Indian Football, yes there were others derbies from Goa and Northeast but nothing touched the attentions that Kolkata derby grabbed.

Since its Inception, ISL had been trying to generate such rivalries among its teams by clubbing certain games as a “derby”. The match between Kerala Blasters vs Chennaiyin FC were dubbed as ‘Southern derby’ while ATK vs NEUFC were called ‘Eastern Derby’. Apart from geographical proximity, there were very little in these games that would describe them as derby, there was neither fan rivalries nor any incident that would ignite such rivalry. The closest ISL had something was the matches between Mumbai City FC and FC Pune City dubbed as “MAHA derby” due to its close proximity to each other and being part of same state. Yet the lack of strong and big fan base from the two cities didn’t help as much as they would have expected.

ISL lacked that certain push that a proper derby gives to the league, while I League had its traditional Kolkata derby, ISL still searched for one among them. Until Bengaluru FC decided to join the league last year, creating more than just a hype of a ‘Preseason favorites’ or ‘ the team to beat’.

Also Read: Late David Free-kick Sees Aizawl Deny Mohun Bagan In Kolkata 

How it all began:

It all started back on August 23, 2017 when Bengaluru FC faced April 25 for their AFC Cup Inter-Zone Play-Off Semifinal game. Now before we start with the incident that transpired on that day, a little context of what was going on in Indian Football few months before.

Ever Since Bengaluru FC was established back in 2013, ‘Professionalism’ and ‘Title favorites’ were the words that soon begun to be associated with them. Before its switch to ISL, the club had won 4 titles in 4 years (Two I League and Two Federation Cup) and also finishing up in runners-up spot in AFC Cup 2016, the Club had built a huge reputation about itself and as a result a huge hype was generated when Indian Super League decided to expand and BFC was one of the team to join them (after ISL was officially recognized by Asian Football Confederation and were granted a AFC Cup spot).

However before the expansion happened, Indian Football had two separate leagues in a season (ISL and I-League). As a result, Bengaluru FC (who were in I League back then) loaned out its fan favorite players to ISL teams (Sunil Chhetri to MCFC, Eugeneson Lyngdoh to FCPC, Rino Anto & CK Vineeth to KBFC).

In the 2017–18 season, Indian football leagues were restructured and were drafted to run simultaneously. As a result, ISL clubs were allowed to retain just two players while other players were left to choose either I League teams or get into the draft systems of ISL where they would have been selected by clubs irrespective of their choice. Due to this drafts system, Bengaluru too had to lose their players most of whom had played for them ever since its inception.

Rino Anto and CK Vineeth were the two from bunch of players that were the part of BFC since its inception but were now transferred to play for other clubs.

Coming to the incident on night of August 23, 2017, couple of months after departing from the club, both these players decided to visit Bengaluru’s home leg fixture against North Korean side April 25.

Famous for their specialized and synchronized chants for each and every players of their clubs, West Block Blues (WBB) began singing their specialized chants of Vineeth and Rino Anto, acknowledging their presence and contribution for the club. However, a bunch of supporters among the group also chanted, “Who The F**K is Kerala Blasters?”. Aimed at the ISL side for whom the 2 players would go on to play for. This did not go down well for Manjappada Fans (KBFC Fan group) expressing their displeasure in social media.

This received a major boost after Rino Anto posted his experience on Facebook stating that while he enjoyed being with WBB he was disappointed with a bunch of supporters chanting against KBFC.

Soon Social Media was filled with fans wars among sets of both clubs fans. While KBFC fans claimed WBB insulted their players, WBB called it BanterIronically, CK Vineeth didn’t take offence about it, stating in his Facebook Post that in 90 minutes of football its only fair that a little bit of banter comes from the stands.

Although Vineeth didn’t mind the banter, Blaster fans were already riled up and had began showing their displeasure in social media. Thus a new rivalry came into existence in Indian Football without even once a ball being kicked off between the two teams. This was the first BIG Rivalry among two ISL sides that was born purely out of fans hatred for each other.

Last year Bengaluru FC did a double over Kerala Blasters by winning both the legs however this time things seems different. Both the teams have been unbeaten so far and while BFC are not as strong as what they were last season, Blasters too have improved under David James. It will be interesting to see who comes on top, as the rivalry will continue for ages no matter what the results, its just the bragging rights that fans yearn.

While Kerala Blasters are yet to win a trophy, they boast a huge crowd support that can make even the home side look like a away team. On the other end, BFC have a limited crowd support but have won 5 trophies in their 5 years of existence.

Also Read: India clinch SAFF U-15 Bronze with 1-0 win against hosts Nepal

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