Federation Cup final: Bagan, Bengaluru eyeing to end season on a high

A victory will help Bagan emulate its arch-rival East Bengal's feat of winning the Cup in consecutive editions since the introduction of a National league in 1996.

The overexposure to each other should make the sixth meeting of both sides in the season a less surprising duel. Bagan has won twice, while Bengaluru has tasted victory once.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Mohun Bagan will be an overwhelming favourite in its Federation Cup title defence against a depleted Bengaluru FC at the Barabati Stadium here on Sunday.

After missing the I-League title by a wafer-thin margin, Bagan wants to calm its passionate supporters by retaining the Federation Cup crown. The victory will help Bagan emulate its arch-rival East Bengal's feat of winning the Cup in consecutive editions since the introduction of a National league in 1996.

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AFC Cup finalist Bengaluru, which had a disappointing I-League season, wants to redeem some pride by bagging the second most coveted title and its right to play in the continental event for one more year.

The overexposure to each other should make the sixth meeting of both sides in the season a less surprising duel. Bagan has won twice, while Bengaluru has tasted victory once. Two matches, including their Federation Cup Group B clash, have ended in draws.

Bengaluru coach Albert Roca admitted that Bagan would be the favourite and the final would be a contest between Bagan's attack and his team's defence.

Bagan has some potent weapons, including Katsumi Yusa, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Balwant Singh, Daryl Duffy and Sony Norde, upfront to bother any opposition.

Bengaluru should use its tight back line, led by the well-built John Johnson, to foil any move. “We have to be brave, win the ball back and counter-attack. We have the strength to go ahead and attack,” said Roca.

However, Bengaluru will miss the services of its injured captain and forward Sunil Chhetri and key midfielder Cameron Watson, who serving suspension. In such a scenario, recently-recruited striker Cornell Glen should play an important role.

For Bagan, its 3-1 win over Bengaluru, in their last engagement in the AFC Cup despite resting some of its prominent players, should be a morale booster. Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen made clear his team's keen desire to win the title. “Bengaluru is a strong team. So are we. We know each other's strong and weak points...We are here to win the title,” said Sen.

The players have to overcome the hectic schedule and humid conditions to give their best as the tournament resumes after a week's break. The 7 p.m. start should provide some relief.

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