Kolkata, Sep 26 (IANS) Strong and vociferous local support could turn out to be the key factor, as local favourites Mohammedan SC (MDSP) take on FC Bengaluru United (FCBU) in the first semi-final of the 130th Durand Cup at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) here on Monday.
FCBU had gotten the better of the local club 2-0 wehn the two sides met in the group stage of the tournament.
But the semi-final is an altogether different encounter and the Black Panthers will be all charged up after knocking out defending champions Gokulam Kerala in the quarters and now with crowd support on their side, it won’t be easy for Bengaluru United, who have displayed an organized brand of football under coach Richard Hood.
FCBU are so far undefeated in this year’s Durand Cup, having got a bye in the quarter-finals after winning all group games and leading Group A. This will be th’ side’s first big final if they make it through.
Mohammedan will pin their hopes on star forwards Marcus Joseph and Azharuddin Mallick who have been phenomenal in this year’s Durand. But it will certainly not be a cakewalk to go past FCBU keeper Kunzang Bhutia, who has maintained two clean sheets in three matches so far. Pedro Manzi will be the key strike-force leader for FCBU.
Mohammedan SC head coach, Andrey Chernyshov said his team will do it for their fans. “When we have a good field, we show beautiful attacking football. We are very glad that we will play in the presence of fans, they are the most wonderful in the world and are very important to us. We want to please them with a beautiful game and a good result.”
He also spoke about their group stage loss against the same United saying, “We are looking forward to a tense and interesting game. Our opponent is strong. We have already forgotten about that game. Now all our thoughts are about the upc”ming match.”
Richard Hood, head coach, FC Bengaluru United said their desire to win is stronger than their opponents. “Nothing changes in our approach. Our desire to win will have to be stronger than that of our opponent and we will count on our collective belief and intent to script the result. With the finals of the Durand at stake, the last group game against them is behind us now and we start again from scratch going into the semis.”
“The home crowd being present is a positive as it is a sign of our game coming back to health. We will ensure that everyone present gets a top-notch encounter with our performance and energy on the day,” he said.