The ongoing violence over the Cauvery issue in Karnataka has no doubt hit normal life hard, with students and working professionals being the ones hit the most. Indian football fans too have been on the receiving end of the mayhem.
Football lovers from all over Bengaluru were waiting with bated breath to see their favourite team, Bengaluru FC, play against Tampines Rovers in the AFC Cup 2016 quarterfinals at the Shree Kanteerava Stadium on Wednesday. Their hopes have been dashed now.
The match, which will be held behind closed doors, has been preponed to an earlier time schedule now. Needless to say, Bengaluru FC loses a chunk of its identity without the fans, especially the super active West Block Blues, who are just a spectacle during every single match of the Sunil Chhetri-led side.
"We always thrive on the support that you – our passionate home fans bring to the stands, and as much as we will be handicapped by your absence, your safety and security will always mean more to us than everything else," Bengaluru FC mentioned in a statement.
"We may not hear you sing but be rest assured; the team will take the pitch knowing that you will be standing up for us, wherever you are. Stay safe and back the Blues."
Football, whether behind closed doors or not, goes on despite all odds, and fans saw that even during the Paris terror attack last year. Even without the spectators, BFC will keen on putting up a dominant show at their home turf. "All we can say at this moment is that we're going to look to put in a good performance in a bid to get the best result," BFC coach Albert Roca said.
"It's been three and a half months without competition and the boys were keen to show where we are trying to get to. We just have to move on and give this our best," the Spaniard added.
BENGALURU FC - Albert Roca has a relatively fit side at his disposal for the match.
It's going to be odd playing at the Fortress without our fans. But we know you know you will be backing us and we hope to do you proud.— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) September 14, 2016
TAMPINES ROVERS - The Singapore side will be without striker Farzul Nawaz, who has a long-term injury. Having said that, the S-League giants have top quality players in Billy Mehmet, Jordan Webb and former Arsenal and Liverpool winger, Jermaine Pennant.
AFC Cup 2016 quarterfinals: Bengaluru FC vs Tampines Rovers is scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. IST (6:30 p.m. SGT) on Sept. 14.
How to watch
India: TV: Star Sports 2/HD 2. Live streaming: Hotstar.
Singapore: TV: Fox Sports 3. Live streaming: Fox Sports Play.
Live scores: official Bengaluru FC Twitter handle.