Preview: Familiar rivals fight for a place in the Durand Cup final

There is a lot of reputation at stake as FC Goa and Bengaluru FC lock horns in the second semi-final of the Durand Cup at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) in Kolkata on Wednesday.

Both the teams hail from the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) and will look to get one up on each other in what is Asia’s oldest football competition. A positive result from the encounter is also likely to spill over into their encounters in the eighth edition of the league kicking off on November 19.

FC Goa were the run-away leaders in Group B having won all their three matches, 2-0 against Army Green, 2-1 against Sudeva Delhi FC, and 5-0 against fellow Hero ISL side Jamshedpur FC. Then they overwhelmed Delhi FC 5-1 in the quarterfinals for a place in the semis.

Bengaluru FC too have had a dominating campaign so far. In Group C, they beat fellow Hero ISL side Kerala Blasters FC 2-0, drew 2-2 with Delhi FC and beat Indian Navy 5-3. In the quarterfinals, they got the better of Army Green 3-2.

In all honesty, FC Goa will fancy their chances largely on account of having several seasoned Hero ISL names in their squad in comparison to their opponents on Wednesday. Names like Alberto Noguera, Edu Bedia and Alexander Jesuraj can inspire fear in any opposition team. Among youngsters, Muhammed Nemil and Devendra Murgaokar have really brought the spotlight on themselves thanks to their efficacy in front of goal.

It may be noted that goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh and midfielders Brandon Fernandes & Glan Martins and defender Seriton Fernandes won’t be available for FC Goa for this game as well as the final – if they get there, of course – after the quartet made it to India’s squad for the 2021 SAFF Championship kicking off in the Maldives on October 1. 

Bengaluru FC too have quite a few champions of their own even though the Gaurs boast a more high-profile squad. Namgyal Bhutia, Leo Augustine, Naorem Roshan Singh and Bidyashagar Singh so far have given a great account of themselves and make no mistake, they are more than capable of spoiling the outing for Juan Ferrando’s men. The Blues have eight different goalscorers in their 12 goals so far in the competition and that speaks volumes.

“When you look back, we’ve played four games and each game taught us different things. The win against Blasters was good for our confidence, drawing against Delhi at the Mohun Bagan Ground taught us the importance of coming together as a unit. The last two games against Indian Navy and Army Green have been about the importance of starting well,” Bengaluru FC coach Naushad Moosa said ahead of the game.

“FC Goa have come with a squad that has played together for a long time, and it will be a good challenge for us. They have foreigners and good Indian players, and have consistently played well, so we will have to be at our best against them.”

Mohammedan Sporting Club of Kolkata are awaiting the winners of Wednesday’s game for a clash in the grand finale on October 3.  

Squads:

FC Goa:

Goalkeepers: Naveen Kumar, Hrithik Tiwari

Defenders: Leander D’Cunha, Saviour Gama, Sanson Pereira, Kunal Kundaikar, Manushawn Fernandes, Lalmangaihsanga (Papuia), Ivan Gonzalez, Aibanbha Dohling, Mohamed Ali

Midfielders: Edu Bedia (c), Brison Fernandes, Muhammed Nemil, Alberto Noguera, Princeton Rebello, Danstan Fernandes, Alexander Jesuraj, Redeem Tlang, Nongdamba Naorem, Makan Winkle Chote, Christy Davis

Forwards: Devendra Murgaokar, Jorge Ortiz, Delton Colaco

Bengaluru FC:

Goalkeepers: Lara Sharma, Sharon Padattil

Defenders: Parag Srivas, Robin Yadav, Harpreet Singh, Jagdeep Singh, Ajith Kumar, Wungngayam Muirang, Naorem Roshan Singh

Midfielders: Thoi Singh, Bekey Oram, Damaitphang Lyngdoh, Ajay Chhetri, Biswa Darjee, Macarton Louis Nickson

Forwards: Bidyashagar Singh, Leon Augustine, Akashdeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Sivasakthi Narayanan, Namgyal Bhutia, Lalthangliana

Kick-off time: 6 pm IST

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