The 20-member squad for Federation Cup will be –
Goal: Arindam Bhattacharya, Shilton Paul; Defence: Nirmal Chettri, Aiborlang Khongjee, Celestine Anyichie Echezona, Khelemba Meetei, Lalrozama Fanai, Warundeep Singh; Midfield: Manish Maithani, Manish Bharghav, Rakesh Masih, Biswajit Saha, Sk. Jewel Raja, Syed Rahim Nabi, Snehasish Chakraborty, Denson Devadas; Striker: Odafa Onyeke Okolie(C), Tolgay Ozbey, Sabeeth Sathyan, Anil Kumar.
Group B – Group of death and one of the most difficult group consisting of Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Air India and Md Sporting. The matches are to be played in Siliguri. The fixture is as below:
September 20: Air India VS Mohammedan SC (3.00 PM)
September 20: Churchill Brothers VS Mohun Bagan (7.00 PM)
September 22: Mohammedan SC VS Churchill Brothers (3.00 PM)
September 22: Mohun Bagan VS Air India (7.00 PM)
September 24: Mohun Bagan VS Mohammedan SC (7.00 PM)
September 24: Air India VS Churchill Brothers(3.00 PM)
Mohun Bagan and Churchill are the front runners in the group however the other two teams can create upset and change equations in the group.
A lot has been discussed about our team in the group. Nothing new to say. In short the success depends on three players in three positions – Eche in defence, Denson in midfield and Odafa upfront. A lot on depend on these three players. besides Nabi/Jewel/Tolgay are the three pillars in the team.
Churchill Brothers :
A new look team under Subhash Bhowmik. A strong team on paper but not tested and seriously devoid of any match practice. But we have to remember that they started their preseason camp earliest among all Indian teams.
The fulcrum of the team remains to be midfield general Beto and the success of the team will depend on him. Besides they have a good striker in Henry from Gabon who did quite well last year. Besides they have taken two players from Lebanon – Bilal the centre back and Akram, a striker. They have two good wing halfs in Binesh Balan and Stephen Dias. They also have two very capable midfielders in Tomba SIngh and Lenny (who did well in Nehru Cup). In defence they have Ravanan and Denzil Franco. The GK position will be managed by the experienced Sandip Nandy backed by young and talented Felix. Churchill have recruited two players from Pailan who did well. They are Gurtej Singh in defense and Bikramjit SIngh in midfield which gives good balance to the team. Overall a very balanced team.
We have a tough opponent to start with, however their defense looks a bit weaker specially Bilal is yet to be tested in Indian wet conditions.
Hope we can defeat Churchill and take a major step forward towards getting back the coveted trophy.
Md Sporting :
The team under Alok Mukherjee remains to be unpredictable as last few years. One day they may have a brilliant match and the next day they look a most ordinary side. They enjoyed few good wins in the season and also had a bad matches already. The forward line looks quite compact with Sunday, Alfred and Ashim. All the strikers are among goals which is a good sign. The midfield includes veteran Jayanta Sen as the main man. Alfred is also playing a bit behind to assist the midfield. The Korean, who doesn’t look superb, but is good with his free kicks. The wings will be managed by Gourango, Mukhter, Manirul and Krishanu Banerjee. The defence mainly consists of Mohun Bagan discards in Kingshuk, Azim, Dhanrajan. They have recruited a new foreigner in that position namely Daniel. There is little or no idea regarding this player at this moment. The GK will be managed by Somnath Khara and Arnab Sen Sharma. Overall a good team and can create some upset but not my candidate to qualify for the semis.
Air India :
The Durand winners under ex Indian captain, Godfrey Perriera will also be a tough opposition to play with. Recently they have recruited three ex Mohun Baganis in Souvik Chackroborty, Micky Fernandes and Branco (Anjan da will say Sourav Chack too… but Sourav as of now is a Mohun Bagan player). The three foreigners are Tomba in defence, Junior (ex Sporting/Prayag and Salgoacar – good player but injury prone) and Henry who did moderately well in last year I League along with Manandeep. I don’t know what happened to the Japanese midfielder who looked quite good last year. John Dias, the experienced centre back has also joined Air India this year.
Anyways to keep it simple we have the team to beat all these teams and qualify for the semi final… but no easy match in hand
(From the desk of Souvik Goswami)