ISL final: Big-match players may decide title clash

Bengaluru FC knows the Indian Super League final feeling, having gone down to Chennaiyin FC last season in the title clash.

Progressing to another final is a major achievement for Carles Cuadrat and team in ISL season five. The title will be decided at a neutral venue, the freshly re-laid Mumbai Football Arena surface, on Sunday night.

It will be interesting if BFC can withstand pressure from FC Goa in a crunch game. FC Goa is also in search of a maiden league title (it lost to Chennaiyin in 2015) and a side on a high and individual players in form.

No favourite

Cuadrat, deputy to Alberto Roca at BFC last season, dismissed talk about his team as favourite, instead, pointed out that both finalists had a chance. One of two Spaniards in the dugout (FCG chief coach Sergio Lobera being the other), he quipped that big-match players will determine the outcome.

“I don’t see our team as being favourites. There are a lot of factors involved in a final match. Both teams have arrived with very similar numbers, same number of wins, draws and losses (league phase).”

FCG has scored the maximum goals, he pointed out BFC missed Venezuelan striker Miku due to injury. Cuadrat listed the main players in both squads who can make a difference.

“We have players like Sunil (Chhetri), Gurpreet (Singh), Udanta (Singh) and many others who can shine. The problem is that FC Goa also have players who can have a great game, there is (Ahmed) Jahouh, (Ferran) Corominas, Mourtada (Fall), Jackichand Singh, Brandon Fernandes. Let us see what happens, hopefully we can stop them from being heroes.”

BFC won both league ties against FCG, he is of the view that past results don’t matter. “I don’t think the previous results should give us confidence because this final is a completely different situation,” said Cuadrat.

He added, “Both teams have a lot of quality in midfield. The battle will be about possession and about how dangerous the top strikers, that both teams have, can be. I think both teams have quality and play good football.”

Coromias and Gurpreet, in rival camps as the main goalscorer and first choice goalkeeper respectively, are at the forefront in the race for the Golden Boot and Golden Glove awards.

Differenct game

Lobera, first time finalist with FCG as chief coach in second ISL season, said: “The final is a completely different game. We played well in the semifinals, but this is a different game. It is true that Bengaluru won more matches against us (head-to-head), but we came here with the intention of winning the final and can learn from those mistakes,”

The two coaches denied any injury worries, promised to field the full-strength side and give fans exciting moments to remember.