Barabati Stadium, Cuttack
Live on Zee Sports – 6:00 PM – 30.09.2010

The 2nd semi-final of Federation Cup 2010 sees Mohun Bagan take on I-League Champions Dempo. These two clubs have locked horns in the final in recent past. In 2008, Bagan won Fed Cup for 13th time defeating Dempo in penalty shootout. In 2004, Dempo won their first Fed Cup title, defeating Bagan by 2-0 margin. But the final match was marred by the tragic death of Brazilian footballer Junior. Junior died after a fatal clash with the then Bagan goalkeeper Subrata Paul.

Mohun Bagan started the tournament on a shaky note. They defeated Shillong Lajong by a solitary goal but were thankful to a flawless performance from ‘keeper Shilton Paul. Their second match resulted in an insipid draw with Mumbai FC. Bagan created numerous chances but were unable to kill the game off. The final group match against Salgaocar was a virtual knockout, as the Green and Maroon brigade had to win to qualify for the semis. And did they win in style! Bagan faced a team coached by their former coach Karim Bencharifa. “Karim Chacha” had started to play mind-games with his press statements before the game.

A man for all seasons…

The Moroccan coach could do very little in the game as Bagan romped to a 6-1 win. The evergreen Jose Barreto scored a hattrick while his strike partner Muritala Ali also bagged 3 goals. This was Bagan’s biggest win in an all-India tournament since 1997. That year, boosted by Amal Dutta’s “Diamond System” Bagan had blanked Churchill Brothers 6-0.

The comprehensive win over Salgaocar is sure to ease the pressure on the players as well as coach Stanley Rosario. The latter will now aim to reach Fed Cup finals with different teams in back to back seasons.

Edeh Chidi’s lack of fitness means that Jose Ramires Barreto will start with Muritala Ali in a two pronged attack. Barreto will play a slightly withdrawn role connecting Muritala with the midfield. As it has been for last decade or so, the Brazilian’s form will decide how well Bagan plays.

Shilton Paul will start in goal. Paul will have to be on his toes throughout the game as Bagan’s defence has been very, very shaky till now. Sheikh Azim and Sangram Mandi have not been solid in the heart of the defence. They did show some signs of improvement when they came up against veteran Yakubu in the last game. Kingshuk Debnath, harshly dismissed against Lajong will play as right back while Dhanrajan will partner him on opposite flank. Bagan’s full-backs have often been caught out of position and they can’t afford that against a team like Dempo.

Centre-back Diamondstar may start in the midfield ahead of Jayanta Sen. Diamondstar’s big physical play will be utilized to hamper the flow of Dempo midfield. Club captain Isfaq Ahmed played a good game against Salgaocar and will start on the right wing. Gouranga Dutta will be the other winger in a 4-4-2. Youngster Manish Mathani, who has shown immense promise, will partner Diamondstar in the central midfield.

Bagan’s opponent, defending I-League champion Dempo is possibly the finest football team in India right now. They not only have seasoned Indian players, but also boast of some of the best foreign players. Dempo’s well oiled machine has won 4 I-League titles in last 6 seasons – a record.

They have lost a big bunch of players to Indian Camp. However, they are still strong enough to compete with the best in Indian football.

In the absence of the first choice defenders, Creston Antao, Valeriano Rebello and Debrata Roy will have to shoulder the responsibilities to keep out the Bagan strikers. They will have the experience of former India international Samir Naik.

Brazilian Beto had a short and insignificant stint in Bagan a few years ago. In Dempo he has transformed into one of the finest play-makers in Indian football. His partnership with greenhorn Joachim Abranches was one of the main reasons behind Dempo’s comprehensive I-League triumph. Beto can also score goals and is a big threat from set-pieces.

Football Fans Know Better

Nigerian pair of Ranty Martins and Ogba Kalu will take up the attacking duties. Kalu excelled in Churchill Brothers last season. He was promptly snapped up by Dempo this season. Martins is now a veteran in Indian football. Still just 24, he has already played 6 seasons in India. He didn’t take long to find form in Fed Cup as he scored a hattrick in the first game. His hattrick inspired Dempo to come back from 2-1 down to thump ONGC 5-2. He scored a brace against AIFF XI taking his tally to 5 goals for this edition.

Armando Colaco is one of the finest coaches in India with a wealth of experience. His teams have always played well balanced football, focusing on getting the job done. Bagan coach Stanley Rosario will have his task cut out with a wobbly defence.

Possible Starting XI

Dempo: Laxmikant Kattimani, Creson Antao, Debabrata Roy, Sameer Naik, John Dias, Beto, Ogba Kalu, Godwin Franco, Micky Fernandez, Joachim Abranches, Ranty Martins

Mohun Bagan: Shilton Paul, Kingshuk Debnath, Seikh Azim, Sagaram Mandi, R. Dhanarajan, Manish Maithani, Ishfaq Ahmed, Gouranga Dutta, Okwy Diamondstar, Jose Ramirez Barreto, Muritala Ali.

TheHardTackle’s Blast from the past:

Fed Cup final 2008:

TheHardTackle’s Player to watch out for
Jose Ramirez Barreto (Mohun Bagan):

It has been over a decade in Indian football for Barreto, yet he shows no signs of slowing down. He became the first foreigner to score 200 goals in Indian football history. The “Green Parrot” enjoys god like status among the Green and Maroon faithful. Whenever the team is in distress, Barreto comes to the rescue – both as a player and as a leader. His fine hattrick against Salgaocar showed he hasn’t lost his touch with age. How well he plays might end up deciding the fate of this tie.

TheHardTackle’s Prediction

Mohun Bagan 1-2 Dempo

Bagan’s defensive weakness will be exposed by Dempo. Ranty, Kalu and Beto are all good finishers and can kill off the game when they get the slightest chance. Stanley Rosario has not yet formulated a plan to keep out opposition strikers and his tactical acumen may prove to be out of depth against a shrewd tactician like Colasco.