Albert Roca and Sanjoy Sen will pit their wits against each other once again the final of the Federation Cup at Cuttack on Sunday, looking to get their hands on some silverware before the season ends.
Mohun Bagan started the cup campaign in dominating fashion. After a ruthless 4-0 performance against DSK Shivajians, they outscored Shillong Lajong 3-2 in Group B. Sunday’s opponents Bengaluru stopped the overflow of goals and held them to a 1-1 draw to set up an exciting derby match up against East Bengal in the semi final.
Bengaluru, however, had a slightly more difficult ride in their group. A 3-2 win over a helpless Shillong Lajong side was followed by a shock defeat at the hands of DSK Shivajians which complicated their situation in Group B. A draw in the final group game saw them qualify from the group and set up a delicious semi final clash with the league champions Aizawl FC.
Mohun Bagan held their nerves in the hyped up semi final against rivals East Bengal to run out comfortable 2-0 winners and get to within touching distance from the trophy. Bengaluru, meanwhile, ended Aizawl’s dream run this season and sent them home following a 1-0 win.
The final on Sunday will be the sixth meeting between these two teams this season and is arguably the most crucial clash yet due to the AFC Cup spot at stake for the winner of Federation Cup (which is so until the re-structuring of Indian football is finalised). The Mariners boast a head-to-head advantage in the matches played so far, the 3-1 AFC Cup group game win a few days ago being the last of that lot but the Blues will remain hopeful of putting up a stern John Johnson-led challenge against a solid attack spearheaded by Sony Norde, Darryl Duffy and Balwant Singh.
While captain Sunil Chhetri remains a long term absentee after the injury he picked up during the tournament, the vital miss will be midfielder Cameron Watson who picked up a needless second yellow card of the tournament which will keep him out of the crucial final on Sunday.
The rest of Bengaluru’s 4-4-2 is expected to remain the same. Unlike the last time these two teams met, the gameplay is expected to be more organized especially in defence, led by John Johnson.
Mohun Bagan is free of worries regarding their squad and are expected to field the usual team on Sunday. The Balwant and Duffy-led attack, which is their obvious yet effective trump card, will be flanked by Sony Norde and Yusa in a 4-4-2 formation.
PREDICTED LINE UPS:
Kick off is at 7 PM IST at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack.