Siliguri, West Bengal; September 30, 2012
The 34th edition of the prestigious Federation Cup has reached its climax. The event held simultaneously in Jamshedpur and Siliguri witnessed some exicting football, despite rain playing spoil-sport and clubs threatening to pull out due to bad ground conditions.
As East Bengal get ready to square off against Demo, TheHardTackle previews the match, analyzes strengths and weaknesses of both the teams and looks at certain key players who could decide the course of the Federation cup final which promises to be a thrilling affair.
Team News and Tactical Brief
After edging out Churchill Brothers 1-0 in semifinal, Trevor Morgan coached East Bengal come into the final sensing victory after they went down narrowly to Salgaocar in last year’s final. East Bengal were clubbed in Group C along with Sporting Clube de Goa, new-boys ONGC and qualifiers Kalighat and despite reported differences between coach and the management over the signing of foreign players, were expected to easily qualify from the group.
Playing in slushy conditions at Silguri, East Bengal took the lead against Sporting thanks to a goal by Chidi Edeh in the sixth minnute of the match. Sporting however came back strongly in the second half and scored in the 85th minute to equalize. Mehtab Hussain was sent off and the match ended 1-1. East Bengal continued to struggle against ONGC and fell behind in the 11th minute. A splendid free-kick from Chidi and a last-gasp winner from Manandeep saved East Bengal the blushes and gave them the win. The third match against city-rivals Kalighat turned out to be another thriller as East Bengal edged them 4-3 thanks to a brace each from Manandeep and Chidi. The match saw some controversial action as East Bengal were awarded two penalities
Trevor Morgan’s tactical acumen helped East Bengal pip Churchill in the semis. The Red and Gold brigade started cautiously and stemmed the initial Churchill attacks. The Lal-Hould brigade itself created good chances after settling down and hardly gave room to Beto to dictate play from the center of the park. Mehtab and Penn were brilliant in midfield as well. Two key substitutions in form of Sanju Pradhan and Lalrandika Ralte for Ishfaq Ahmed and Harmanjot Khabra turned the tie in East Bengal’s favor as the youngsters added pace to the attack in the extra-time. Ralte finally scored in the 110th minute as his beautiful right footed volley gave no chance to veteran keeper Sandeep Nandy and crashed into back of the net.
Abhijit Mondal will start in goal and the clean-sheet against Churchill Brothers would have given him a lot of confidence. Uga Okpara and Gurwinder Singh picked up their second booking of the tournament and will surely be missed in the center of the defense. This means that U-23 central defenders Raju Gaikwad and Arnab Mondal will start the game. The duo are extremely talented but have had a shaky start to the season something which would worry Trevor Morgan. Naoba Singh and Soumik Dey will take up the right and left full-back positions respectively.
The midfield will be led by the ever so impressive Penn Orji who has created a lot of chances for the EB forwards and the tireless Mehtab Hossain who will play as a deep lying playmaker and will be entrusted with the job of breaking up opposition attacks. Sanju Pradhan would start on the right flank while Ishfaq Ahmed would occupy the opposite flank as Ralte is yet to fully gain match fitness. The attack will be led by Chidi Edeh and Manandeep Singh both of whom have been among the goals.
Expected Starting XI: Abhijit Mondal, Naoba Singh, Arnab Mondal, Raju Gaikwad, Soumik Dey, Sanju Pradhan, Penn Orji, Mehtab Hussain, Ishfaq Ahmed, Chidi Edeh, Manandeep Singh.
After defeating Salgaocar 2-0, Dempo will be brimming with confidence ahead of the final. Despite playing the entire tournament with a couple of foreigners and the semi-final with only one, after Ryuji Sueoka got injured, Dempo have romped to the title clash in style. The Indian contingent has responded well to Armando Calcao’ s call and performed admirably.
Dempo began slowly and were held by Arrows in the first match. It was Arrows who took the lead but Clifford Miranda equalized with a wonderful left-footed goal. Dempo remained on the back-foot in entire match and continued to struggle against Shillong Lajong in second match. It took a wonderful free-kick from Clifford Miranda to settle the match in Dempo’ s favor. Dempo were slowly coming into their own and they rode on Koko Sakibo’s hat-trick to rout Mumbai FC 4-0. Clifford Miranda continued his fine run and scored another goal in the final group match.
Dempo were being billed as under-dogs against Salgaocar in the semi-finals as their opponents came into the match after seeing off tough challenge from Pune FC and Prayag United. After an uneventful first half hour, Dempo started piling pressure on their opponents through their neat short passing game. Dempo defense lead by Mahesh Gawli and Debarata Roy kept a tight leash on Sean Rooney and Angel Guirado throughout 90 minutes. In the 70th minute Joaquim Abranches scored a beautiful goal from substitute Romeo Fernandez ‘ s cross by beating Karanjeet Singh with his first touch shot. As Salgaocar pressed for an equalizer, Nigerian striker Koko Sakibo scored the second six minutes from time to kill the match and send Dempo into their first final since 2008.
Subhasish Roychowdhury will start under the post for the I-League Champions once again while the defense will be led by former Indian defender Mahesh Gawli, partnering Cressan Antao. Experienced Indian players Sameer Naik and Debabrata Roy will play on the right and left flanks respectively. Dempo have conceded just once in the entire tournament and will look to maintain this trend in the final
Clifford Miranda, who has scored one goal in each of the group matches, will start on left flank while Anthony Pereira will start on the right. Dempo wingers have been in terrific form throughout the tournament and have ensured a continuous supply of crosses for the strikers. Climax Lawrence and Peter Carvalho will start in the heart of Dempo midfield and will have keen contest against Mehtab and Penn. Koko Sakibo and Abranches will start the match as the frontmen and the duo are peaking at the right moment, much to the delight of the Dempo fans. Young Romeo Fernandez can also be used as an impact substiute later in the game
Expected Starting line-up: Subhasish(GK), Debabrata, Mahesh, Antao, Samir Naik, Clifford, Climax, Carvalho, Anthony, Sakibo, Abranches.
- Dempo and East Bengal finished winners and runners-up in the I-League last season.
- East Bengal have reached the final 16 times before and emerged winners 7 times. This their fourth straight Fed Cup final
- This is Dempo’s fourth Fed Cup final and they have lifted the trophy once in 2004.
- Semi-Finals was the first time when East Bengal manged to keep a clean-sheet while Chidi with 4 goals and Manandeep with 3 goals are in running for the top-scorer award.
- Dempo have conceded just once in the entire tournament while Koko Sakibo has scored 4 goals and Clifford Miranda three so far
- East Bengal have qualified for the AFC Cup as Dempo had already booked their spot by winning the I-League
Players To Watch Out For
East Bengal: Sanju Pradhan, Penn Orji, Mehtab Hossain
Dempo: Clifford Miranda, Climax Lawrence, Joaquim Abranches
East Bengal 1 -2 Dempo
It is going to be yet another cracker of a match between the Goan and Kolkata clubs but with Dempo peaking at the right moment, coupled with East-Bengal’s not so impressive run, Dempo look favorites to edge out East Bengal in an entertaining finale