CHIRAG UNITED SC
Ambedkar Stadium, New Delhi
Live on 24 Ghonta – 5:00 PM IST– 07.11.2010
JCT FC, Phagwara, is all set to take on Kolkata newbie Chirag United in the 2010 Durand Cup Final to be played at New Delhi’s Ambedkar Stadium on 7th November, Sunday. This is the maiden appearence for Chirag in the final of this prestigious tournament, while JCT, five times winner, will hope to regain the coveted trophy after a gap of 15 years.
Road To The Final
No football pundit would have expected a final between these two teams before the start of the tournament. But it has been a dream run for both the teams thus far. While JCT convincingly won both the group league matches to set up a semi final clash against defending Champions Churchill Brothers; Chirag, who drew their first match with Pune FC, thrashed Air India 5-0 in a do or die encounter to book the semi final berth against crowd favorite Kolkata giant East Bengal.
In the first semi final, JCT beat Churchill by a solitary goal margin, thanks to the extra time winner by Amandeep Singh. Both the teams took a cautious approach right from the outset and the game saw them creating pretty limited goal scoring opportunities. Churchill talismanic striker, Odafe Onyeka Okolie was man-marked by the JCT defense.
After a rather boring first half, Churchill started the second half brightly and could have put the game to bed, but to their despair, they were denied by the woodwork twice – first in the 49th minute, Israil Gurung’s shot rattled the crossbar and then, around the hour mark, Lenney Rodrigues was denied by the woodwork again.
Odafe almost scored the winner for Churchill just before the final whistle, but a superb reflex save by JCT goalkeeper, Pawan Kumar kept his team’s hopes alive. In this evenly contested match, both the teams were locked at 0-0 after the regulation time before JCT striker Amandeep Singh netted the winner in the 102nd minute to book their first final appearance in four years.
Kingfisher East Bengal, under the coaching of Trevor James Morgan, has been the team to beat this season. They were on a 18 games winning streak, which includes their Federation Cup triumph, before they faced city rivals Chirag United in the second semi final. East Bengal missed the services of few key players in this match. Nigerian midfielder Penn Orji missed the match with an ankle injury, while striker Ekene Ikenwa was also unavailable due to a stomach ailment. Left winger Reisangmei Vashum also missed the semi final match with a hamstring injury. But what hurt East Bengal most was the suspension of playmaker Mehtab Hussain, who has been instrumental for the Red&Gold brigade this season.
East Bengal started the match with a completely revamped line-up. For the first time under Morgan, East Bengal had to deploy a conventional 4-4-2 formation instead of their preferred 4-3-1-2 system. Chirag’s experienced coach Subrata Bhattacharya analysed the situation brilliantly and went with an attacking mindset. Although East Bengal enjoyed better ball possession, the scoreline remained 0-0 until the 86th minute, when Mohammed Rafiq’s harmless shot took an wicked deflection off East Bengal defender Naoba Singh and went in Sandip Nandy’s goal.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Chirag coach Subrata Bhattacharya is way ahead of his JCT counterpart Parminder Singh in terms of technical accumen. Chirag do not field a tactically rigid XI; Subrata is known for changing his formation based upon the opponent. While he prefers an ultra defensive approach in a game against stronger opponent, he loves to go all out in attack in do or die situations. JCT is not a strong team on paper, that’s why Subrata might be tempted to deploy an attacking formation, just like he did against a depleted East Bengal side in the semi final.
Abhijit Mandol is certain to guard the goal-post for chirag, with four defenders in Chikawali, Justin, Subhasish and Narugopal; Subhash, Asif K, Densan Devadas and Gouranga to cover the midfield, while Rafiq might be used as an withdrawn striker just behind Brazilian goal-machine Joshimar. The best thing for Chirag is that this 4-4-1-1 formation can easily be moulded into 4-3-3 with Devadas playing a more advanced role or into a 4-5-1 dropping Rafiq back to the midfield and using Subhash as a defensive screen when needed. This flexibility gives Chirag a slight edge over JCT in the final.
Possible Starting Line-up: Abhijit; Chica, Justin, Shubhasish, Narugopal; Subhash, Asif, Densan, Gouranga; Rafiq, Joshimar
JCT coach Parminder Singh prefers a rigid 4-4-2 formation. Pawan Kumar on goal with Daniel Bidemi, Rahul K., Daljit Singh and Amarawant Singh completing the back four. Midfield responsibilities will lie on Jagpreet Singh, Baldeep Singh, K. Ibrahim and Ram Pal. In the absence of Balwant Singh, who is currently travelling with India U-23 team for the Asian Games, Amardeep Singh and Ajay Singh will form the striking partnership for the Phagwara team.
Possible Starting Line-up: Pawan; Daljit, Bidemi, Rahul, Amarawant; Jagpreet, Baldeep, Ibrahim, Ram; Amardeep, Ajay.
TheHardTackle’s PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Joshimar da Silva Martins (Chirag):
Joshimar is in red hot form at this moment, scoring a hattrick against Air India in their do or die clash. He will be the main hope for Chirag to score in the final. Watch out for this experienced campaigner – he has a knack of scoring in important games.
K. Ibrahim (JCT):
This Nigerian footballer, who plied his trade at Vasco last season, is a versatile talent. He can play as a striker and also as a midfielder. Parminder Singh used him as a striker in his initial days at JCT. But due to the lack of quality midfielders in a Federation Cup match, Ibrahim was played as a midfielder and he was an instant hit there. In this Durand Cup also, he played a midfielder’s role to perfection scoring a brace against Garwal Heroes. He has the ability to tear apart any defense with his excellent vision and ball control.
Chirag 1-0 JCT
In all probability, it’s not going to be a free flowing match of football. If Chirag can get an early goal, they will be content with preserving the lead by parking the bus infront of their box. The presence of Subrata Bhattacharya, a nine time Durand Cup winner – 8 times as a player and once as a coach, is the distinguishing feature between the two teams. We, at TheHardTackle, expect Chirag to clinch the crown with a narrow one goal victory.