East Bengal, Bengaluru set for the Final showdown
The Final of the Hero Super Cup is nearly upon us with Bengaluru FC and East Bengal all set to take centre stage at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday. The Final promises to be a riveting showdown with arguably the two best sides in the tournament locking horns against each other. Both sides share a fierce rivalry, with East Bengal having the slight advantage in terms of head-to-head encounters. Here we take a look at how the two teams are placed ahead of the all-important fixture.
East Bengal have a golden chance to break their six-year trophy-less spell against Bengaluru, with their last major trophy coming in 2012 when they won the Federation Cup. Khalid Jamil, who has had his share of controversial encounters with Bengaluru, will be hoping to get one over his nemesis yet again.
The Red and Gold brigade are well-known for their potent attacking threat, but it is their defence that has really stepped up to the occasion in this tournament. East Bengal have registered two clean sheets in three games — the most by any team in this tournament. Eduardo Ferreira, Gurwinder Singh and goalkeeper Ubaid CK deserve all the praise for marshalling the Bengal backline, which has conceded just one goal in this tournament.
However, their attack hasn’t delivered as expected. While the likes of Katsumi Yusa, Lalram Chullova, Mahmoud Al Amna and Laldanmawia Ralte have helped the Kolkata giants in creating chances in plenty so far, forward Dudu Omegbemi hasn’t made the most of these opportunities. This wastefulness might have gone unpunished so far in the competition, but against a side like Bengaluru, it would be an open invitation to a one-sided affair.
Unlike East Bengal, who are seeking their first title in five years, Bengaluru will look to maintain their perfect record of winning a trophy in every season they have played in since their inception back in 2012. Head coach Albert Roca is known to be a cup specialist, after guiding his side to victory in the Federation Cup back in 2017 as well as taking them to the AFC Cup final in 2016.
As expected, captain Sunil Chhetri and Venezuelan forward Miku have been the standout performers of the tournament so far. The duo has contributed eight of the nine goals Bengaluru have scored in this tournament — a clear indication of the influence they pose. Erik Paartalu and Lenny Rodrigues have been commanding figures in midfield with their tireless running and neat passing, with John Johnson and Harmanjot Khabra showing that they can hold the defence well. The Final will also see custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Khabra face-off against their former club, a side they made their professional debut with.
Over the years, this fixture has given football fans in India a lot to cheer for. Be it Malsawmzuala’s screamer from 30 yards that had the then East Bengal goalkeeper TP Rehenesh in tatters in 2016, or be it Robin Singh coming back to haunt his former side with a later winner a year later, the two sides have always ensured an action-packed game. And if things are to go as per script, one can expect something similar on Friday.
Watch the Hero Super Cup Final LIVE on the Star Sports network 4 PM onwards on Friday, 20th April 2018.