With the Federation Cup now done and dusted, Goal.com now has a look at the sides and players who caught our eye during the tournament, and also those who didn't....
The Indian football season is now well and truly underway, as East Bengal edged out I-League champions Dempo SC in the Federation Cup final, to lift the trophy.
While the focus shall now shift to the league, Goal.com signs off its Federation Cup coverage by recognizing the moments of the tournament, the stars and the underachievers who were seen in action during the Federation Cup.
Player Of The Tournament - Manandeep Singh (East Bengal)
The former Indian Arrows striker’s career has been on an upward trajectory since last season, when he first grabbed the limelight while with Air India.
Now an Indian International, the move to East Bengal was seen as a big step for the striker, but if early signs are to be believed, then he could well be the player to fill the Tolgay Ozbey-sized shoes in Trevor Morgan’s side.
With four goals in as many games, including one in the final, Manandeep was instrumental in his side’s Federation Cup triumph, and added great movement as well as a physical presence upfront for the Kolkatan side throughout the tournament.
Most Entertaining Team - East Bengal
The Red and Gold Brigade might have won the tournament, but the fans shall hope their next triumph comes in a more straightforward way, with the club suffering from inconsistency throughout the league stages. Though their form did on occasions cause heartache to their fans, for the neutral it was great fun, as they got to watch a lot of goalmouth action.
This was best exemplified in their win over Kalighat MS in the group stages, with Morgan’s side at one stage trailing 3-1, and looked set to be on their way out, until his side rallied to win 4-3.
The final too was an entertaining affair, with East Bengal eventually outmuscling Dempo 3-2.
The Flop Team Of The Tournament - Prayag United
Prayag United came into the tournament with a star studded squad, with Subrata Paul in goal and heavyweights like Carlos Hernandez and Ranti Martins upfront and threatened to sweep aside all that would come in front of them.
However Sanjoy Sen’s squad were on the first flight back home, not even lasting in contention till the third matchday, with their famed attack yielding only 3 goals in the tournament, with 2 of them coming in the dead rubber against United Sikkim.
Loads of hardwork remains to be done, if the Kolkatan side are going to be a force in the I-League. Whether Sanjoy Sen will be tasked with masterminding the revival, remains to be seen.
Flop Player Of The Tournament - Ranti Martins (Prayag United)
Dempo were supposed to struggle after losing the services of their star striker, but early indications seem to suggest that it is infact the player who is already missing his ex-employers. The Nigerian drew a blank during the Federation Cup, where he alongside Carlos Hernandez was expected to fire the Kolkatan side to glory.
While his Costa Rican team-mate still managed to open his account and is still settling into new surroundings, Martins has been in the Indian circuit for a while, and should have done much more.
However Prayag United fans do not need to lose hope yet, as last season the other striking heavyweight of the league, Odafa Okolie, too had a poor outing in the Federation Cup, before making his mark in the league with his displays.Sanjoy Sen will be hoping that Ranti Martins can also do the same.
Match Of The Tournament - East Bengal 4-3 Kalighat MS
There is no denying that Kalighat, who thrashed their opponents to qualify for the main round, were themselves the whipping boys of the group stages.
Having been mauled by ONGC, they conceded another 3 against Sporting Clube de Goa, but in almost their biggest contribution to the tournament, they vame close to defeating fellow Kolkatan side and eventual champions, East Bengal and in the process eliminating them from the competition.
Twice they led by a margin of two goals, 2-0 and 3-1, only to succumb to a brace each by Manandeep Singh and Chidi Edeh, with the latter scoring twice from the spot, to eventually pull East Bengal to a thrilling 4-3 win, in the game of the tournament.
Surprise Of The Tournament - ONGC
As almost every Government-owned side, ONGC were a side put together from scratch at the eleventh hour. Heading into the Federation Cup, their own manager Bibek Bhowmick admitted that the side were not in prime form.
Hence they were expected to be the whipping boys in Group C, but they made a mockery of that tag in the first game itself, putting Kalighat in their place with a 5-1 thumping.
They then looked to be on their way to beating East Bengal, as they took the lead before eventually losing 2-1, after talismanic midfielder Katsumi Yusa was sent off.
Although East Bengal’s topsy turvy win over Kalighat on the final matchday eliminated them, Bibek Bhowmick’s side were in the fray until the end, beating Sporting Clube de Goa 2-1, to exit the tournament with their heads held high. This is a solid platform to build on as they head into the I-League season.
Foreign Player Of The Tournament - Akram Moghrabi
With Churchill Brothers losing several of their Indian players over the summer, the onus was always going to be on their foreign recruits to come good, and both their Lebanese signings over the summer Akram Moghrabi and Bilal Najarin have looked good during their stints on the pitch.
It is the striker, Moghrabi, who walks away with this particular gong, as his three goals helped the Goans seal a passage into the semi-final of the Federation Cup. The striker was initially left on the bench, and was unable to change the game in Churchill’s favour after coming on in the semis, as East Bengal pipped them to a place in the final.