Salgaocar SC claimed their fourth Federation Cup title last Thursday and completed a highly coveted double in Indian Football. This was the national league Championsai??i?? second big tournament victory within a span of 4 months. Once again veteran coach Karim Bencharifaai??i??s strategic brilliance as a coach was emphasized as he was at his tactical best when his lads thrashed local giants and hot favorites, East Bengal, in their own backyard at Yuva Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata.


The Finale
-Ai??

The final saw a huge number of East Bengal fans flocking up the YBK stands flaunting huge Red-&-Gold flags, hoping to see their side win a hattrick of Federation cups. Both the sides had to pass a very difficult semi final test to take part in the final for the second most prestigious football tournament in India, after the I-League. Salgaocar SC scraped past a determined Shillong Lajong side and a underperforming East Bengal got the better of local rivals Prayag United.

The final starting line-up saw a lot of changes made to both the teams, which eventually had a lot of impact on the final result. Karim Bencharifa deployed some major changes to his side starting Elijah Junior and Ishfaq Ahmad. Trevor Morgan took a huge gamble by starting Mehtab Hussain, who had just about recovered from a groin injury, in the middle of the park and leaving out Sanju Pradhan form the starting lineup. Robin Singh served his one match suspension and returned to the side alongside the new sensational signing Alan Gow. Another change which raised many eyebrows among the Red-&-Gold faithful was exclusion of the influential Tolgay Ozbey from the lineup. His partnership with Robin has lead to many goals in the recently concluded I-League and it was certainly a tactical blunder by the Brit. Raju Gaekwad, the India U-23 captain also made a return to the side and was slotted alongside Uga Okpara in the centre of defence.

It was nothing but a horrendous start by the home team as the former Mohun Bagan Striker Chidi Edeh scored headed in a goal from a dangerously floated cross from Elijah Junior. Compiling the misery, the gamble of Mehtab didnai??i??t pay off and he had to be substituted by Sanju Pradhan as early as the 4th minute. As the East Bengal team was finding their feet in the match, Trevor Morganai??i??s side had to deal with another blow. The home side was trailing the I-League champions by two goals inside 20 minutes in front of close to 75000 supporters. This time Francis Fernandes fired his rebounded shot straight into the net, after Sandip Nandy had palmed away the initial attempt.

As the stunned East Bengal side was struggling to find their composure, a penalty was awarded to the home side after Salgaocar Captain Luciano Sabrosa bought down Penn Orji inside the area. Experienced Gow sent Karanjit Singh the wrong way to score for the defending champions and bringing down the score line to two goals to one in favour of the Goans. Robin Singh was guilty was muffing a glorious opportunity to equalize just before the breather.

Ai??Edeh Chidi – making an impact!


The second half saw Karim Bencharifa made some sharp tactical changes, bringing on Ryuji Sueoka for Elijah and the young legs of Gilbert Oliveira for Ishfaq. Trevor Morgan bought on Tolgay, to the delight of thousands of supporters, as the Red-&-Gold chased the game. The substitution paid dividend for the National champions as Ryuji retained the two goal cushion for his side, scoring in the 66th minute.

Although, East Bengal enjoyed a lionai??i??s share of possession, requiring an unlikely two goals to send the match into extra time, but Salgaocar defence was up to the mark and bought all the Red and Gold attacks to a halt. Trevor Morgan was left lamenting missed chances as Salgaocar SC repeated the feat of defeating East Bengal in a Federation Cup final after 1997.

Double Goan Delight


Bencharifa All Set For The Hot Seat?
-Ai??

Just after the Moroccan led Salgaocar SC to their fourth Federation cup glory, merely four months after the Goan side claimed the I-League title; Karim Bencharifa came out as front runner to join the Indian national football team as Head Coach, after Armando Colaco refused to sign an one year contract. It is not the first time Bencharifa has tasted the sweet success of winning the Indian domestic double. He achieved the same feat with Mohun Bagan in 2008 too.

After it became evident that the AIFF was looking to appoint the Salgaocar coach for the top coaching job in India, the owner Shivanand Salgaocar was quick to shred all the suggestions, as he refused to release the Moroccan stating that Karim still needs to serve nearly 2 more years according to his contract with the club. Shivanand Salgaocar clearly has the coveted AFC Cup and the AFC Championai??i??s League in mind. Salgaocar now have direct shots at the continental tournaments as they are the current national champions. Shivanand Salgaocar expressed his feelings as he quoted,Ai??ai???We donai??i??t change horsesai??i?? midstreamai??? and also donned a firm belief in Moroccan who has the option to pay up the compensation to the club and leave for the national assignment. The matter still hangs in the air after Karim expressed his desire to coach the national side, but also claimed that it was solely in the hands of his current employers.

Veteran Moroccan ready for the Indian job?


The Tournament: An Organized Hit
-Ai??

The blue ribbon tournament in Indian season was certainly dished out very well this time around. Most of the matches were telecast live on DD Sports and News Time Bangla, much to the delight of the Indian football faithful. The revised tournament prize money has already been credited to clubs bank accounts and the matches were attended by capacity crowd, both at Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune and Salt Lake stadium, Kolkata.

All the participating teams got something to take along from this prominent tournament – someAi??grabbed theAi??opportunitiesAi??andAi??announced their arrivals (Royal Wahingdoh and Mohammedan Sporting Club) among the big boys, and someAi??were left Ai??to ponder about a lot ahead of the national league, which kicks off next month. The tournament has been vital in terms of assessing the teams’Ai??caliber and all the teams will look forward to implement the lessons learnt from Federation Cup to produce improved showing in the upcoming national league campaign. Let the all new exciting season of I-League kick off !

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One Response to “A Few Conclusions From The Recently Concluded Federation Cup”

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  1. Very nice article mate. It will be interesting to see how the Federation Cup will shape the I-League. From past years though there have not been a correlation between the winner of the Cup and League winner but I think that is changing with the new format