Churchill Brothers SC
Mohun Bagan AC

Yuvabharati Krirangan, Kolkata
31st March, 2011 – 6:15 PM IST


The 115th edition of the prestigious IFA shield, which started off with ten teams, has reached its climax, with only two teams left fighting for the coveted title. I-league bound clubs; Churchill Brothers take on the local lads, Mohun Bagan, at the colossal Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Thursday evening in what would be a repeat of last year’s final where the same teams faced off for the ultimate glory. Last year Churchill Brothers got the better of the Mariners at the same venue, with Nigerian ace Odafa and Vashum scoring for the Goan Whites, as they brought home their maiden IFA Shield, producing another first for Goan football.

Team News and Tactical Brief

Churchill Brothers:

Defending champions Churchill Brothers rose to the challenge of an impressive and equally dangerous Giant Killers, Shillong Lajong FC in the semifinals on Tuesday. The Meghalaya club already brushed aside an I-league side in Pune FC to reach the Semi Finals earlier. The north easterners were always a dangerous prospect, as they had experienced playing against the Goan side in the previous edition of I-league. However the SESA Academy product, Israil Gurung scored twice for the defending champions as they notched up a convincing 2-0 win. He opened the scoring by guiding in a header from a well delivered Charan Rai corner in the ninth minute and then sealed the deal for the Goans after a superb solo run in the second half injury time, eventually ending the Cinderella story for the North Eastern club.

Drago Mamic, who has just taken over the coaching job for the Churchill Brothers side, could be lifting his first silverware of the season as he prepares his players for the big final. Churchill needs to defy the hostile Kolkata crowd as they would try to keep their calm and concentrate on their game. Bineesh Balan has had a good tournament so far for the former national champions, notching up two goals already, one crucially against a weakened East Bengal side in the virtual Quarterfinal. Charan Rai has been exceptional in the middle of the park for the Goans, pulling all the strings, orchestrating through balls for the strikers and delivering set pieces in dangerous areas.

Having said that the defending champions have already tasted defeat in the group stages, bowing down to the only foreign traders in the tournament in a Group A clash, when they took on Shandong FC from China. Drago Mamic, former Myanmar coach, would want his side, especially the defending pair of Ravanan and Hardeep to be alert and counter all the nipping Chidi Edeh moves in their box. Churchill Brothers’ Administration is already facing a lot of troublesome issues due to the tussle between the Sports Ministry and the Opposition Party in Goa over the land allotted to the club in Benaulim. President Joaquim Alemao would like his team to retain the title amidst all the political tension, as Churchill Brothers are expected to fly in their hit man and Captain Odafa Okolie, current top scorer and the golden boot holder in the I-league, for the final match. It wіƖƖ not be surprising to see the influential Nigerian scoring the winning goal for Churchill in consecutive IFA Shield finals.

Possible Starting Lineup – Vinay Singh, Rowilson, Ravanan, Hardeep, Robert, Bineesh Balan, Amury, Lenny Rodrigues, Israil Gurung, Odafa Okolie, Charan Rai

Hitman Returns !

Mohun Bagan:

The 22 times Champions, Mohun Bagan had to come from behind against the high flying Southern Samity side on Tuesday to take a tough passage into the finals. As Mohun Bagan now setup another summit clash against Churchill Brothers, The Mariners would be having revenge on their mind, as the last edition saw Churchill Brothers scoring twice in the final at YBK, sending thousands of Maroon-&-Green religious supporters home without a smile. Ashim Biswas was the hero for the Subhas Bhowmick mentored side in the semi final as he slotted into the empty net, just ten minutes before the final whistle, deservedly taking Mohun Bagan to their consecutive finals.

A Chidi Edeh header had restored parity earlier after Edmilson had given Southern Samity a shock lead. Mohun Bagan is again expected to deploy a 4-42 formation with Chidi and Ashim upfront and Jayanta and Biswajit providing assistance from the middle. Deepak Mondol and Surkumar would be providing with the overlapping runs, synching up with Snehashish and Gouranga. Veteran Sangram Mukherjee is expected to be under the crossbar for Mohun Bagan. Coach Subhas Bhowmick would like to see his strike force to increase the ratio of moves created to goals scored for the big finale, as both Chidi and Ashim were guilty of spurning many chances in the semi-final.

Possible Starting Lineup – Sangram, Surkumar, Kingshuk, Sagaram, Deepak, Jayanta, Snehashish, Biswajit, Gouranga, Ashim, Chidi Edeh.

Can he do it in the final?

TheHardTackle’s Prediction:

Churchill Brothers 2-1 Mohun Bagan

Bagan-Churchill rivalry has blossomed over the past few seasons. The corresponding fixture finished in a stalemate just a month ago in the I-league. With a ‘Back to Back’ title at stake, we can expect a cagey affair in the first half, with both the teams opening up and going for goals after the lemon break. As the IFA Shield could well be the only silverware both these clubs would get their hands onto in this season, we can expect a feisty affair at the YBK come Thursday. Both the teams would prepare to dish out their best and it will be interesting to see whether last year’s script is re-played or Mohun Bagan would finally manage to bring smile back on their supporters’ faces by winning the prestigious title in the centenary year of their historical triumph of 1911.