35th Federation Cup is upon us. 16 teams kick off the tournament today in hope to chase glory which comes with this prestigious cup. Teams are divided into four groups and the format is such that all the group matches carry vital weightage. Only the topper qualifies for semi finals. Group B can easily be the best contender to be called as the Group of death in this year’s late version of the Federation Cup. A very tricky group sees two new clubs participate in the fed cup for the first time, alongside Sporting Clube de Goa and eight time champions East Bengal.
The side form garden city is raring to go and prove a point as they kick off their maiden Federation Cup campaign. Under the mentorship of Ashley Westwood, the side has silenced their critics in style so far in the I-League. The speculative talks of this side eventually degrading have now been put to bed as the Bangalore side sit at the top of the table. Out of many strengths of this side, the one that misses the eye is the stability of the foreign players. With almost all the sides in the league having to change their foreign players, Bengaluru has not countered anything on those lines.
Defenders John Johnson and Curtis Osano will once again hold the key at the back. Rino Anto will also be all charged up to play in his state as he trains to keep his more than decent performance going in this tournament as well. Thoi Singh has been the unsung hero for the club. He, alongisde John Menyongar would be resposible to pull the strings from the middle. India Captian Sunil Chetrri, who has been in terrific form lately, alongisde Sean Rooney are the best bet to start most of the matches. Robin Singh could be deployed as an impact player from the bench, alongside Karan Sawhney and Beingaichho.
Key Players– John Johnson, Sunil Chettri, Thoi Singh.
Sporting Clube de Goa
Sporting Clube has already showcased what the team is capable of courtesy their brilliant showing this season. Known for their tiki-taka football, the Flaming Oranje have influential foreigners as well. The Goan side has conceded second lowerst number of goals in the league so far which exemplifies the challenge other teams have on their on their hands.
Foriegn defenders have been the recipe for success so far in the I-League. Sporting Club has two Spanish defenders, Arturo and Gonzalo who are in top form . Coupled with solid holding play from Keenan and offensive instincts of Pratesh Shirodkar and Rowlin Broges, it makes a pretty awesome combination. Sporting has scored 22 goals in the league, second best so far. The trio of Boima Karpeh, Victorino and Dawson Fernandes would be once again carrying the responsibilty of hitting the back of the net.
Key Players– Boima Karpeh, Rowlin Borges, Mathew Gonsalves.
Armando Colaco’s side clinched another Calcutta Football League title building up to the Federation Cup. The Kolkata side managed to squeeze into the top half of the table as the I-League went into a mini hiatus. The Red-&-Gold brigade only lost once in their last five games in the league and it would be safe to say that the side are in a healthy form.
Okpara at the back has been a rock solid along with equally robust Gurwinder or Arnab. East Bengal probably flaunt the best midfield in the group with Sueoka, Khabra, Dika , Lobo and Tulunga. Strikers Chidi Edeh, Joachim and James Moga will look to carry from where they left in the CFL, where the team managed to strike 16 goals in seven matches. The eight time champions will look to add to a second title to their name this season, under the mentorship of Armando Colaco.
Key Players – Chidi Edeh, Dika, Okpara.
Another club in the group which is competing in the their maiden Federation Cup. Santosh Kashyap has come out and spoken with confidence about his sides’ chances of qualifying from the group, which would have obviously provided a boost of confidence to his team. Formerly known as Ar Hima, the team struggled during the initial rounds in the league, but some shrewd transfers have improved their form curve. The last five results in the league show the progress of the club and highlights the imminent confidence- 2 Wins, 2 Draws, 1 Loss.
The defence line will be lead by former Indian Captian Gouramangi Singh and former Churchill Brothers center half Lamine Tamba. Midfield responsibilties will be shared by David K.C. Ngaihte, Eugeneson Lyngdoh and Tomba Singh. Striker Manandeep Singh, who burst onto the scene in last years Fed Cup, would also be raring to impress his new team mates. In addition to him, Edmar Figueira and Lulnunpuia would also be seen leading the sttack for Kashyap’s team.
Key Players – Manandeep Singh, Tomba Singh, Lamine Tamba
January 15: Bengaluru FC vs Sporting Club de Goa
January 15: East Bengal vs Rangdajied United
January 18: Sporting Club de Goa vs East Bengal
January 18: Rangdajied United vs Bengaluru FC
January 21: Sporting Club de Goa vs Rangdajied United
January 21: East Bengal vs Bengaluru FC
No doubt, this group is a very tricky one.With all the clubs from the I-League, clubs in the group can beat anyone on their day. Each club has a reason to do well and is motivated in their own way. Two new clubs would be raring to go out and do well in their maiden tournament. But East Bengal has history behind them, and undoubtedly would be favorites to qualify from this group. Sporting Clube could turn out to be the dark horses in this group, and have an outside chance of registering few upsets.