The Blues from Bengaluru will lock horns with the mighty Mohun Bagan in the finale of the 2017 Federation Cup following a breathtaking result against Khalid Jamil's Aizawl FC in the semi-finals. The former I-League winners were crowned the winners of the Federation Cup two years ago and will hope to repeat the same on Sunday evening. However, the absence of few vital players will be an obstacle in their journey to the championship.
Head coach Albert Roca believes that Sanjoy Sen's army are favourites for the victory owing to their full strength squad including the availability of all four overseas players. However, the Spaniard is not bothered on being called the weaker contingent ahead of the showdown.
''Sunday will be our (Bengaluru FC's) second cup final in less than a year and it’s something we are proud to be part of. The team has shown immense character to make it to this stage and we are ready to give it one final push. I would say Bagan are the favourites with some big names on their roster and the availability of all four foreigners for this fixture. We have no problem being the underdogs,” he remarked.
Midfielder Cameron Watson, who scored the winning strike in the semi-final against the reigning I-League champions, has been sidelined for the final fixture on account of having picked up two yellow cards in the tournament. Discussing about the Australian's absence the gaffer commented that the 29-year-old's absence will be felt deeply but the rest of the squad will try to cover up for his non-appearance.
''Cameron (Watson) has been an important player for us all season and his experience will be missed in the midfield. But like I’ve said before, we have enough quality on this squad and ability has never been a worry for me. Everyone on the squad knows what is at stake and I’m expecting them bring their best to the final,'' Roca explained.
The JSW owned side's pathway to the ultimate tie was full of ups and downs. Chhetri and company beat Singto's Shillong Lajong 3-2 in the league-phase opener before suffering a shock 2-0 defeat to DSK Shivajians in the following match. Later, the Southern Eagles managed a 1-1 draw with the Mariners which was enough to set up a semi-final clash against Mizoram outfit Aizawl FC. In the semi-final, Cameron Watson’s early penalty almost sealed the final's berth before Aizawl were awarded a penalty in the last minute of added time. But the safe hands of Amrinder Singh guessed correctly to keep the take out and hand Bengaluru a shot at the title.
''We’ve made it a little more difficult for ourselves than we would have liked to but that’s how football can be sometimes. What’s important is we showed character and tomorrow will be another test of it,” Roca signed off.