The Goan giants will now face either East Bengal or Prayag United in the final. So Karim Bencherifa’s side will face a club from the City of Joy and the Moroccan stated after the game that it will give his players extra motivation.
“I think it is an added motivation to face a club from Kolkata in the final. Both East Bengal and Prayag are good sides and Kolkata is a city passionate about football so it is going to be a special match,” Bencherifa told the reporters.
The 43-year-old admitted that his team were a bit lucky to beat Lajong and pointed to the little time they had to prepare for the semi-final.
“Yes I think we were a bit lucky today because they (Lajong) had their chances and we struggled a bit physically.
“But the result wasn’t just down to luck; we were solid as a team and let’s not forget that our preparation for the semi-final wasn’t ideal as we got only one day to train in Kolkata. Therefore I am happy with my team’s effort today and delighted to reach the final.”
Salgaocar managed to keep a clean sheet for the fourth straight game and when asked about their impressive defensive record, Bencherifa opined that the whole team deserves credit.
“Karanjit made a couple of brilliant saves but the whole team deserves a lot of credit for the four consecutive clean sheets. Even our attackers Chidi and Sueoka are equally responsible for our good defensive display, so the whole team should be praised for protecting Karanjit.”
The introduction of Junior Elijah in the 88th minute turned out to be a master class from the former Mohun Bagan coach and he revealed later that the change was initially planned with an eye on extra time.
“At the start of the second half I brought on Ishfaq in place of Gilbert because we were struggling on the flanks in the first period so I had to change the personnel.
“In the second half, Luciano had hurt his ankle so I had to wait a little to make the second change as extra time was also a possibility. I brought on Junior late in the second half and thankfully it worked.”
Bencherifa signed off by confirming that Mehrajuddin Wadoo is ruled out of the final due to suspension after getting booked for a deliberate handball in the first half and said that it was too early to comment on Luciano Sobrosa’s availability.
“Mehraj is ruled out because of two bookings. We have to wait and check on Luciano, who twisted his ankle,” he concluded.
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