The stage is set for an interesting clash between Goan giants Sporting Clube de Goa and Churchill Brothers in the 35th Federation Cup final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here on Saturday. It will be the championship’s first ever all-Goa final.
While Sporting Clube is currently second in the I-League table, champion Churchill Brothers is bottom. But surprisingly, one of Churchill’s two wins in the league this season came against the former at Goa in November.
Sporting Clube, which qualified for the semifinals from the ‘Group of Death’ that included I-League leader Bengaluru FC and Federation Cup defending champion East Bengal, must be the weariest team here.
It landed in Kochi on Wednesday after a long journey from Manjeri and played a tough semifinal against Dempo on Thursday which went into extra-time.
“The format is such that the winner of this competition is going to be the team that recovers best,” said Oscar Bruzon, Sporting Clube’s chief coach, here on Friday.
“You need 72 hours to recover from a big effort; that is science. We have only 48 hours,” said the 36-year-old. “We need to play this tournament in two weeks, so all our efforts now are on helping the players recover. We are not thinking of any other thing.”Injury worries
Sporting Clube has some injury concerns too, with Joel Martins on the injured list while Arturo Garcia, who scored two penalties in the victory over Dempo, has a knee problem and is not fully fit. The team will be hoping for Australian striker Boima Jerry Karpeh to deliver the goods against Churchill.
Oscar Bruzon has a lot of respect for Churchill. “Churchill is the only team that beat us in Goa in the I-League and it is a team that has completely replaced all its players, especially the foreigners. Anthony Wolfe is a World Cupper, Abdel Hamid Shabana played in the African Champions League and Balwant Singh is an exceptional player. “But football is not about names, it is about teams. We are a very strong team, we are united, we know who we are, we know what we want and we are fully motivated. So, we are going to do everything to take the trophy home.”
Churchill succeeded in shutting out Mohun Bagan’s Okolie Odafa for a major part of the semifinal, and the team’s star striker Wolfe is confident of taking the trophy home.
“We will go all out and I know we’ll win,” said Wolfe.
“My boys have done well, they have worked hard and they are confident. It’s going to be a very nice game,” said Churchill coach Mariano Dias.
Keywords: Federation Cup