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Dempo, Bengaluru FC clash in fitting finale

Posted on : Saturday January 10, 2015

By Debayan Mukherjee,
AIFF Media Team

 

MARGAO: Dempo SC and Bengaluru FC, the two best sides in the competition, will cross swords in the summit clash of the 36th Hero Federation Cup here at Fatorda’s Nehru Stadium on Sunday (January 11, 2015).

 

Both outfits have topped their respective groups with 10 points each and have been unbeaten so far in the tournament.

 

While Arthur Papas’s Dempo have won their first matches to seal a semifinal berth tying only with Royal Wahingodoh in the last game which was inconsequential, Ashley Westwood’s BFC beat Pune FC 2-1 to seal their maiden last-four berth after wins against Salgaocar FC and Shillong Lajong FC in between their 0-0 draw against Mohun Bagan.

 

In the semifinals, both the teams were clinical. Dempo beat Salgaocar 2-0 while Bengaluru strolled to a 3-0 win against Sporting Clube De Goa. It was as if a fitting finale was waiting to welcome them during a time when the whole of Goa is in festive mood.

 

The final, by all means, promises to be a riveting contest between a side that has attacked with venom in the tournament and another that prides itself on their defensive track record.

 

Dempo have so far scored 10 goals in the tournament and at the forefront have been Romeo Fernandes and Tolgay Ozbey sharing nine goals between them. Defensively the Goan heavyweights have kept three clean sheets in the five matches they have played so far.

 

Bengaluru on the other hand have time and again shown why they are the I-League champions, maintaining the balance between the rearguard and attack to perfection.

 

The defensive duo of Curtis Osano and John Johnson are always a thorn for strikers and have been very assure at the heart of that backline.

 

What works in BFC’s favour is that this defensive four have played together for quite some time now. With full-backs Rino Anto and Keegan Pereira it could be the greatest test till now for Tolgay and Romeo to sneak past them.

 

India and Bengaluru Captain Sunil Chhetri has been in his imperious best scoring five goals so far and it will be a battle between him and Tolgay for the top scorers’ position. The Arjuna Awardee has scored two marvelous goals so far – one an acrobatic volley against Pune FC, and the other an expert finish from the tightest of angles in the semi – to underline his credential as the country’s finest.

 

Tolgay at the other end has seemed to have rediscovered his old form that helped him finish top scorer East Bengal in 2010. The Aussie marksman has so far not only netted a superb hattrick but more importantly has led the charge for Dempo giving confidence for the likes of Romeo and Mandar Rao Desai to play with a lot of confidence up front.

 

On the semifinal, BFC coach Westwood said: “It will be a good battle.”

 

“Dempo have been playing good football and have some players who are in form. They are fast and can attack well. Our defense is something we can pride ourselves on. We have so far kept three clean sheets and up front also Sunil has been really good.

 

“He is a good boy and a great leader.”

 

Papas on his part added: “We have to recover and be prepared for the next game medically. In a tournament like this, all you have is 48 hours between semis and finals and there isn't much we can do but make them feel as good as possible.

 

“Players are improving while new players have come in and made an impact. The group works together, for each other and it’s not about one player alone. The strength of the team is the squad.”

 

The sides have never met before in the Federation Cup. Interestingly, the last time the sides met it was BFC who were crowned champions in Goa as they romped home to a 4-2 win at the same venue.

 

Match starts 4 PM IST, LIVE ON TEN ACTION.