The two teams will battle it out not only for the inaugural Super Cup but also for the pride and honour of their respective leagues.
The inaugural Super Cup champions are all set to be crowned on Friday when East Bengal take on Bengaluru FC at the Kalinga Stadium in the tournament’s final. It’s going to be the ultimate battle between the I-League and the ISL fraternity to crown the “best” knockout team in Indian Football in the current scenario, as the philosophies of Khalid Jamil and Albert Roca go up against each other in this anticipated final.
East Bengal and Bengaluru had quite different routes to the final, with the latter having a much more dominant run while the former grinded out results to make the finale. It was Bengaluru who produced a dominant victory over EB’s rivals Mohun Bagan in the semi-finals, but the finale will be a heated battle with both teams wanting to end their season with some silverware.
At a point of time, it seemed very unlikely that East Bengal would even reach this far in the Super Cup, but they have shown a lot of grit to see out results and push away every opposition which has been sent their way so far. The presence of Technical Director Subhash Bhowmick has definitely improved the morale of the squad.
While relations between Jamil and Bhowmick haven’t been good, they will both want to silence their critics by bringing home the Super Cup which will make for a bright ending to Bengal’s sombre season.
Bengaluru’s dominance over Mohun Bagan helped to seal a final berth in the tournament
Importantly, East Bengal will need to play much better than they did against FC Goa, against whom they just managed to grind out a result and will need to be at their best defensively to contain the dangerous Bengaluru.
For Bengaluru FC, there’s a lot at stake as this is their chance to continue their tradition of winning a trophy every season since their inception. They have already been on the receiving end of that sinking sensation after losing the ISL final to Chennaiyin FC a month ago and will not want to replicate that kind of a performance. Bengaluru go into this match with the tags of “favorites”, so they will want to be the winners of the inaugural Super Cup.
East Bengal have their own injury problems as they might miss the services of striker Dudu Omagbemi, who seemingly suffered an injury after scoring the winner against FC Goa earlier this week. In that case, we might see Jamil opt to play Jobby Justin as the lone striker or even play Ansumana Kromah who led the line for him after Dudu’s substitution in the last match.
Bengaluru FC will be without the services of Nishu Kumar who received a straight red against Mohun Bagan, which could cause a bit of a headache for Albert Roca. It might force them to play Harmanjot Khabra in the right-back role again and probably move Erik Paartalu to the centre of defence along with John Johnson. Roca might decide to bring in Lenny Rodrigues because of his experience against East Bengal and will hope his front three can fire once more.
Bengaluru FC and East Bengal have met quite a lot of times in the I-League in the past few years but it’s the Red and who hold the edge having won six out of the nine games played between these two giants.
East Bengal defeated FC Goa to reach the final of the tournament
Man To Watch
Mahmoud Al Amnah-East Bengal: If any player has embodied the spirit of East Bengal on the pitch this season it has been their Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Al Amnah who has been the engine of the team. Whenever he has played for the Red and Gold he has not only been a vital cog when it comes to their attack, but his unmatched energy and urgency at winning the ball makes him an asset for East Bengal in all aspects.
Khalid Jamil and East Bengal will hope that Amnah can bring his best to the pitch on Friday and also help to contain the attacking threat of Bengaluru FC. Al Amna has proved to be a decisive goalscorer for them on big occasions and will look to replicate that against the somewhat weak defence of the Blues.s
Sunil Chhetri-Bengaluru FC: Sunil Chhetri has been the heart and soul of Bengaluru FC over the years and it’s been him who has risen up for them in all the big occasions. While Chhetri was left frustrated by Chennaiyin FC in the ISL final where he scored the opener but ended up on the losing side, he will not want a repeat of that. The talismanic striker will once again be the key for Bengaluru FC with his clinical finishing.
Chhetri scored a beauty against Mohun Bagan to prove how much of a big-game player he is and will look to penetrate East Bengal’s defence along with Miku and Udanta Singh. But in a match like this, he has to be the one to lead from the front and he’ll also look to become the top-scorer of the Super Cup having already scored four goals in the tournament.
East Bengal: Ubaid, Mallick, Eduardo, Gurwinder, Chullova, Aucho, Lobo (C), Al Amna, Ralte, Justin, Katsumi.
Bengaluru FC: Gurpreet, Khabra, Johnson, Paartalu, Subhashish, Rodrigues, Perez, Dovale, Udanta, Miku, Chhetri (C).
Did You Know
East Bengal and Bengaluru have faced each other only once in the Federation Cup (the predecessor of this competition) in the 2013-14 season. It was East Bengal who won, defeating the Blues 2-0 thanks to a brace from Edeh.
Bengaluru FC and East Bengal are yet to play out a draw in any of their meetings so far.
Bengaluru captain Chhetri is married to Sonam Bhattacharya, who is the daughter of Mohun Bagan legend Subrata Bhattacharya.
The match will be broadcast on Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD And Star Jalsha Movies from 4:00 PM onwards. It will also be available to watch on Jio TV and Hotstar.