Cuttack, May 20 (IANS) Defending Champions Mohun Bagan will be favourites when they cross swords with JSW Bengaluru FC in the final of the Hero Federation Cup football tournament here on Sunday.
In the course of this season, Bagan will have faced Bengaluru FC six times including the final on Sunday; just days before the Kolkata outfit registered a 3-1 win over the southern side in their AFC Cup fixture. In the I-League, while one match was drawn, Bagan cantered to a 3-0 win in the other match against Bengaluru.
However, the last time the two teams clashed in the Hero Federation Cup in a group stage fixture (Group B), Alwyn George’s 12th minute strike was cancelled out by a 50th minute Sony Norde goal as both teams had shared the points.
While Bengaluru FC staved off a late challenge by Aizawl FC to win their semi-final bout by a solitary goal to nil, Mohun Bagan registered an easy 2-0 win over East Bengal to qualify for their second consecutive Hero Federation Cup final.
The threat for Bengaluru FC comes in the form of Bagan’s attacking quadruple — Sony Norde, Katsumi Yusa, Balwant Singh and Darryl Duffy — all of whom have been in scintillating form and all four have registered their names in the goal scoring tally.
In the official pre-final press conference, Alberto Roca was wary of Bagan’s attacking prowess and said, “They (Mohun Bagan) have a good attack and we have a good defence. It is important to have a good balance, but we have to be on our toes as they (Bagan) can punish us with the quality up front”
“Mohun Bagan are favourites to win the Hero Federation Cup and they (Mohun Bagan) deserve to be in the final.
“For us (Bengaluru FC), it is important to be in the final of the Hero Fed Cup and tomorrow we have another opportunity to win a trophy and we have to make the most of it,” Roca added.
Bengaluru will be missing the services of talismanic skipper Sunil Chhetri, and midfielder Cameron Watson, who is suspended for the final.
However, Bagan Head Coach Sanjoy Sen did not beat around the bush and stated in the official pre-final press conference that “Mohun Bagan will be looking for nothing less than winning the trophy”.
“We have prepared for it and now we are ready to give our best and win the Hero Fed Cup Trophy”, he added.
“They (Bengaluru FC) have also studied our players, so have we theirs. It is an advantage and a disadvantage of facing a known opponent and since Bengaluru FC are one of the strongest teams in India, it will be a very competitive final.”
Sen declared that all of his players are “fit and ready to perform”.
Bagan skipper Katsumi Yusa said: “It is exciting for everyone in the Bagan camp to be in the final and we are prepared for the final and the final is always special for the Players. We have to give our best to win the trophy for our supporters.
This is published unedited from the IANS feed.