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Everything you need to know about Federation Cup 2017

Written by: Uttiyo Sarkar

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The country's top 8 clubs battle it out for the Cup prize. . . 

The 38th Federation Cup kicks off this Sunday, with India's top eight clubs heading to Cuttack with aspirations of winning the illustrious cup. The games will be played from 7th May till 18th May, but if either Bengaluru FC or Mohun Bagan make the Final, then it will take place on 21st May due to their AFC Cup commitments. India's best clubs will fight it out for glory at the Barabati Stadium in this fortnight-long affair, knowing that winning the competition could gain them entry into the AFC Cup next season.

Mohun Bagan are holders of the trophy going into the tournament and are strong favourites to retain the title after losing out on the I-league to Aizawl FC. The northeast club will themselves hope to do a dream double, while the likes of Bengaluru FC and East Bengal also look to turn around their lacklustre season with success in this historical tournament. It's going to be an exciting few days for Indian football and we take a look at the two groups before this much-anticipated tournament kicks off.

GROUP A:

Aizawl FC

Aizawl FC achieved their dream when they lifted the I-League trophy last week, but will need to cut their celebrations short when they head to Cuttack in search of more success. The northeast club have been seeded in a rather easy group, with East Bengal being their only real threat. They should be able to top the group easily and will look go all the way and complete an incredible double this season.

Aizawl FC will look to win an impressive double after lifting the I-league trophy.

Aizawl FC missed promising right-back Ashutosh Mehta in their final game of the season due to suspension, but he will be back for the Fed Cup. They played excellently last season when they shocked everyone to reach the Final of the tournament, but were overwhelmed by Mohun Bagan. Khalid Jamil has already surpassed expectations by winning the title for Aizawl, but his determination and winning mentality means that he will not be pleased with anything but lifting this coveted cup. The tactical genius will look to prove his brilliance and utilise his happy, energised bunch to their best and usher Aizawl to even more glory.

Chennai City FC:

Chennai City FC barely managed to qualify for the tournament, finishing at 8th place in the I-League after a rather forgettable season. They showed impressive sparks throughout the season, getting some shocking victories over Aizawl FC and East Bengal as their home form was pretty good. Chennai might have had a torrid league-season, but their admirable resiliency against big teams makes them dark horses for their group which consists of the two teams they famously defeated earlier this season in Aizawl and East Bengal.

Chennai almost caused an upset in their game against Mohun Bagan last week, looking really promising in attack at times. Attacking midfielder S. Nandhakumar scored a brilliant goal against the Mariners and Chennai proved that they can hold their own against big teams last week. They are going with a fully fit side with nothing to lose, as manager V. Soundrarajan has displayed his impressive tactical side against the big teams and could prove his worth if he can make Chennai City progress beyond the group stages, which can be a monumental achievement for the club and himself.

Churchill Brothers

Churchill Brothers enjoyed a successful return to the I-League this season, as they comfortably stayed off relegation and looked like their old selves at times. They look to add some silverware to their cabinet this season. Despite not quite looking like a "top" team yet, Churchill have a good history in this competition and could pose a big threat because of that.

Churchill will be heading into the tournament with a fully fit squad and a determination to come back to Goa with the trophy. This mighty club might have fallen in the past few years but are definitely the dark horses this year knowing their history. Derrick Perreira worked wonders for Churchill after joining them in February, as he took them from the bottom of the table to a respectable finish. He's used his players really well as Churchill can pose a dangerous attacking threat when they are in the groove and Perreira will look to make sure they stay in their comfort zone and play their threatening attacking football.

East Bengal

East Bengal looked a club in complete disarray a month back and completely broke down after losing the Kolkata Derby which destroyed their hopes of winning the I-League. Trevor Morgan resigned from the club, who replaced him with Mridul Banerjee who suffered an injury on the first day of training itself. It was then Ranjan Bhattacharya who took the helm, and The Red and Gold Brigade have looked really good since his arrival.

The Kolkata giants will need to control their emotions well if they're to win any silverware this season.

East Bengal go into the tournament with a lot of confidence after some dominating wins in the past few weeks and will look to provide some joy for their followers by winning this eminent cup which they last won in 2010. They are currently enjoying some red hot form, with prime attackers Willis Plaza and Wedson Anselme looking menacing. Ranjan Bhattacharya has done a superb job till now, but the real task begins now as he will look to boost his chances at a permanent position by making sure his boys go all the way. Bhattacharya has utilised his team excellently so far and played some amazing attacking football. He will look to continue that and bring home the trophy to Kolkata.

Fixtures:

7th May: East Bengal vs Churchill Brothers, 4 PM IST.
7th May: Aizawl FC vs Chennai City FC, 7 PM IST.

9th May: Chennai City FC vs East Bengal, 4 PM IST.
9th May: Churchill Brothers vs Aizawl FC, 7 PM IST.

11th May: Chennai City FC vs Churchill Brothers, 4 PM IST.
11th May: Aizawl FC vs East Bengal, 7 PM IST.

GROUP B:

Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC head into the Federation Cup as one of the favourites, with the Bengaluru club enjoying some good form recently. Even though they lost in their AFC Cup fixture recently, they showed shades of last season in their past few I-League matches where they absolutely dominated their opponents. They might be in a tricky group, but their impressive form and an amazing range of players will make them the team to look out for.

The Blues will look to revialize their season with a coveted Federation Cup victory.

The Blues will be playing without striker Marjan Jugovic, who has been replaced by former Mohun Bagan hitman Cornel Glen for the tournament. With the "Hero of the League" winner Sunil Chhetri leading the Blues, they will look to play some free-flowing, attacking football and go all the way this year. Bengaluru's coach Albert Roca couldn't retain the I-League title for them, but has slowly found his touch over the months at the club and is making them play amazing football in the past few weeks. He'll look to win them the Fed Cup this time and show why Bengaluru were right to appoint him as Ashley Westwood's successor.

DSK Shivajians

DSK Shivajians were pretty underwhelming this season and despite having a lot of good players in the team, Dave Rogers' men just couldn't seem to compete with the other teams. Shivajians barely managed to stay in the top 8, winning only four games in the entire I-League season. Despite having a wobbly defence, Shivajians are an experienced unit and will hope the experience of their players can help them perform well in the Fed Cup.

DSK Shivajians will be going into the Fed Cup with a fully fit squad, but they need to work on their defending which leaked four goals to minnows Minerva Punjab in their last game of the I-League season. They have some valuable Indian players and a promising attacking unit, who will need to perform and prove a point for themselves as well. Dave Rogers failed to make DSK compete with the top clubs in the I-League, but his experience and knowledge of how to use players in big games might help DSK survive in this "group of death" and some strong performances can get his men a spot in the semi-finals.

Mohun Bagan

The defending champions of the Fed Cup arrive at the tournament with a sense of bitterness, as they have gone through a really torrid week. Mohun Bagan might be disappointed at not winning the I-League, but they need to focus on retaining the Fed Cup this season. The Mariners looked really good this season and will look to prove a point by winning the tournament for the second  time in a row.

Darryl Duffy and Jeje Lalpekhlua will need to play stellar roles if Mohun Bagan want to make it two in two.

Mohun Bagan will be without the services of Pranoy Halder (injured) and Subhashish Bose (doubtful) but are still packed with immense talent in their deep squad. They'll hope that their stars in Sony Norde and Darryl Duffy are at their best and will need to play the group matches to their best or risk being upset in the end. Sanjoy Sen rallied his men really well throughout the I-League season, but the lack of good luck and injury problems disabled them from winning the league. Sen is under a bit of pressure in this Fed Cup and will need to make his team play their cherished attacking football.

Shillong Lajong

Shillong Lajong were extremely close to ending Aizawl's dream last weekend but were unable to defeat the champions. Despite not getting a win, Lajong looked really impressive in the Northeast Derby and pose quite a threat attacking-wise. Even though they have been put in a rather difficult group, Lajong will continue playing their free-flowing football and can easily topple the other teams and progress to the semi-finals and beyond.

Shillong Lajong are heading into the Fed Cup with a fully fit team and will hope that star striker Asier Dipanda Dicka continues his amazing goalscoring form. The Golden Boot winner was supported really well by Lajong's impressive midfield, as the northeastern club have it in them to go all the way this season if they do not lose this confidence they have right now. Thangboi Singto has actually done really well with limited resources at Lajong but will need to showcase how good his tactical side is when Shillong look to cause an upset and go all the way this year in the Federation Cup.

Fixtures:

8th May: Mohun Bagan vs DSK Shivajians, 4 PM IST.
8th May: Bengaluru FC vs Shillong Lajong, 7 PM IST.

10th May: DSK Shivajians vs Bengaluru FC, 4 PM IST.

10th May: Mohun Bagan vs Shillong Lajong, 7 PM IST.

12th May: DSK Shivajians vs Shillong Lajong, 4 PM IST.
12th May: Mohun Bagan vs Bengaluru FC, 7 PM IST.

SEMI FINALS:

14th May: GROUP A WINNER vs GROUP B RUNNER-UP, 4 PM IST.

14th May: GROUP B WINNER vs GROUP A RUNNER-UP, 7 PM IST.

FINALS:

18/21 May: TBD vs TBD.

 Telecast : Ten Network

Published: Sat May 06, 2017 07:57 PM IST

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