SPORTING CLUB de GOA
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi
25th January 2014
Football crazy state of Kerala has once again stepped up to the occasion. For last couple of weeks AIFF backed football extravaganza has met a massive response in the most southern state of the country. Both Kochi and Manjeri have been very pleasant and hospitable hosts for this years Federation Cup, especially Manjeri, a small town in the district of Mallapuram- has proven a fact to the rest of the nation. The fact that people can still come out, fill up the football stadiums and live the beautiful game. It is a shame how these matches at Manjeri never reached a wider audience via broadcasting. But this passion for the game would be on show for the last time today as the federation Cup beckons.
Federation Cup has always been a tournament mastered by the Kolkata clubs. [ Mohun Bagan (13), East Bengal (8) ]. The Goan clubs have always been guilty of not winning the Federation as often as their fans would have liked. [ Salgaocar (2), Dempo (1) ]. This edition is all set to see a new Goan team add their name to the winners list, as Sporting Club de Goa and Churchill Brothers lock horns. Can Sporting Club clinch their first ever Fed Cup riding on the back of their superb form, or will Churchill Brothers’ resilience and resurgence halt their juggernaut at the very final level and clinch their maiden title instead? Whatever happens, Indian football fans are all set to witness a fantastic game on Saturday. Let us look at both the teams, analyse their strengths, predict the starting line ups and the eventual winner.
Team News And Tactical Brief
Coach Mariano Dias has played all his cards to his advantage in this tournament, boosted by Subhash Bhowmick’s shrewd squad refurbishment during the break. Not long ago, Churchill Brothers’ fans were not so merry as all their team could manage was a rock bottom spot in the league. But this tournament has rekindled the fire which was lost somewhere in the oblivion.
Four victories on the trot will now see Churchill Brothers take the field with their tails up. Lalit Thapa will once again get the nod as the custodian ahead of former Indian international Arindam Bhattacharya. Sanjay Balmuchu and Dharmaraj Ravanan are expected to be deployed in the heart of the defense as Denzil Franco and Raju Yumnam will start on the right and left side of the defense. Captain Ravanan would be looking to tighten the defense as The Red Machines have conceded in all there four games they have played so far.
After letting go all of their foreigners, the club signed Egyptian play maker Abdelhameed Shabana. The African has not disappointed so far, but in fact has been one of the most influential players so far. With couple of assists and scoring a sizzling goal as well, which proved to be the clincher against Eagles FC. India international Lenny Rodrigues will once again be seen holding the mid field with Alesh and Saran on the right and left flank respectively. Trinidad and Tobago attacking midfielder Wolfe will be expected to play just behind out and out in from striker Balwant Singh. The former JCT is now enjoying the fruits of his labor as he proved vital in the semi final as well.
Dias will not be expected to change a lot in the final, keeping in mind that his substitute bench also comprises of impact players like Bineesh Balan, Jiason Vales and Micky Fernandes.
Expected Starting XI: Lalit Thapa; Denzil Franco, Sanjay Balmuchu, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Raju Yumnam; Alesh Sawant, Lenny Rodrigues, Abdelhameed Shabana, Saran Singh; Balwant Singh, Anthony Wolfe.
Sporting Club de Goa:
Finally Oscar Bruzon’s side are a step away from claiming their first major honor since their inception in 1999. Boasting a remarkable youth policy, the Flaming Oranje, this season have been relentless with their flair of attacking football. Already stunning teams in the I-League, sporting Club have proved it was no fluke and they mean business as they gear up for the final.
Advancing from one of the toughest groups in the league and then out classing their arch rivals Dempo in the semi finals- Sporting Club have been in red hot form . the team has bagged ten goals in the tournament so far, and their game play model “pass-&-move” has been a huge hit.
Ravi Kumar is expected to start with Keenan and Gonzalo Neila marshaling the defence. Gonzalo Neila make a return to the team after missing against Dempo due to a suspension. Rovan and Mathew Gonsalves will be deployed at the full back positions, syncing up with Rowlin and Pratesh. Ogba Kalu and Beevan would be orchestrating most of the moves, spreading the ball and buying time with the ball so that full backs can make their runs. Striking department will be lead by in from Victorino and Australian Boima Karpeh. It will be very interesting to see is if Arturo starts the game, and if he starts, which position will be attack from.
Just like their opponents, Sporting have a overwhelming bench strength. Jovel Martins came on in the semi final to prove vital. With all possibility of extra time and penalties, both the teams would be very cautious of their substitute usage as the game phases out.
Expected Starting XI: Ravi Kumar; Gonzalo Neila, Rovan, Mathew Gonsalves, Keenan Almeida; Rowlin, Ogba KaluBeevan D’Mello, Pratesh Shirodkar; Victorino, Boima Karpeh.
Players To Watch Out For
Balwant Singh (Churchill Brothers)
When Sukhwinder Singh was given the charge of the situation at the club, he bought along a few lads from now disbanded JCT club. One of them was Balwant Singh. The 26 old year hasn’t looked back since then as he has been nothing but a revelation this season. The SGGS Khalsa College lad scored and earned a penalty inside 15 minutes to get a comfortable cushion for his side to play freely against Mohun Bagan in the semi final . As a national call beckons, the red Machines’ fans would be expecting a repeat of his exemplary performance today.
Boima Karpeh (Sporting Club de Goa)
The Australian has been more than influential for the Flaming Orange this season. Weaving his magic in the semi final as well, Boima is one guy to mark for the Churchill defense. The tall sturdy lad holds the ball well, and allows the sleek and quick sporting players to pass and move , making him a pivot. he also boasts powerful shots from both the feet, which adds to the clinical finishing.
Churchill Brothers 1-3 Sporting Club de Goa
Both the teams are in their first Federation Cup final. Both the teams will come out and give their everything, which builds to a cracking encounter in Kochi today. But with the free scoring ability of Sporting, Oscar Bruzon’s team holds an edge. Having said that, this tie could go any way. When both these sides met in the league, Churchill got the better of a high flying Sporting side, with Shabana, Balwant and Jaison all getting on the score sheet for the Red Machines.