Strong and vociferous local support could turn out to be the key factor, as local favourites Mohammedan SC (MDSP) come up against FC Bengaluru United (FCBU) in the first semi-final of the 130th Durand Cup, scheduled for a 6:00 PM IST kick-off on Monday, September 27, 2021, at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK). In the two sides’ earlier clash in the tournament, FCBU had gotten the better of the local side by a 2-0 margin.
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 the 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.
The Black Panthers’ Head Coach, Andrey Chernyshov shared his thoughts ahead of the big game stating, “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 upcoming match.”
Richard Hood, Head Coach, FC Bengaluru United spoke about his team’s approach ahead of the game and said, “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.” He added, “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.”
(With inputs from Pratyusha Mukherjee)