East Bengal will bank on its enviable Federation Cup record when it meets the holder of the highest number of National League titles, Dempo SC, in the final here at the Kanchanjungha Stadium on Sunday.
The 92-year-old club from Kolkata, which has won the Cup seven times, has enjoyed a special bonding with the tournament, making this the fourth successive final entry in an overall figure of 16.
Dempo has won the title only once (in 2004) and is also far behind its impending opponent on the count of final entries.
Having finished second to champion Dempo in the last edition of the I-League, East Bengal will seek to redeem itself by regaining the Fed Cup, the country’s second most prestigious club competition.
As was evident in the semifinals, Dempo successfully used its indigenous players, employing just one foreigner — Nigerian Koko Sakibo — in its win over holder Salgaocar.
East Bengal, in the absence of its suspended Nigerian defender Uga Okpara, will also have to depend on its home-grown talents. East Bengal will have its other two Nigerians — striker Chidi Edeh and midfielder Orji Penn — at its disposal while Dempo too may have its Japanese midfielder Ryuiji Sueoka back after a bout of fever. East Bengal’s worry will be its deep defence, where it will be missing both Okpara and Gurwinder Singh, who also has a card problem. The coach said he has enough in reserve to replace the two.
Dempo, which by Morgan’s admission has the most creative midfield in the country, will look to recreate the resourcefulness the team showed in its 2-0 win against Salgaocar.
“I do not treat it as a Bengal versus Goa final. It is another football match and I respect all my opponents,” said Dempo coach Armando Colaco.
Keywords: Federation Cup