Two contrasting footballing battles are in store in Guwahati and Kolkata, come Matchday 18 of the 131st Durand Cup on Friday, September 02, 2022. While both games involve teams playing their final group matches, the one at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium between NorthEast United FC (NEUFC) and Sudeva Delhi FC (Sudeva) will be more a battle of pride, while the one at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) between Bengaluru FC (BFC) and Mohammedan Sporting(MDSP), will be about gaining confidence before the knockouts by bagging the group topper bragging rights.
NorthEast and Sudeva look to end with a win
Both NorthEast and Sudeva are currently placed fifth and fourth respectively in Group D and the best Sudeva can do if they win is finish third in the group from where Odisha FC and the Kerala Blasters have already qualified.
The situation is even more dire and desperate for the NorthEast, who have conceded 12 goals so far in their three games while scoring just one, as only a win can save them the ignominy of finishing as the wooden-spooners in the group.
While Sudeva have held their own against the other teams in the group, NEUFC have looked completely out of sorts. The former therefore has the clear edge and will look to go back to their home base in Noida, riding on a win.
Bengaluru and Mohammedan look for momentum
Both BFC and MDSP have qualified from Group A for the knockout stages and the battle really will be to claim the top spot in the group, so as to avoid a strong opponent like Odisha FC in the quarters. MDSP have the edge, given even a point will help them do that while BFC will have to win to claim the top spot.
Both coaches will also not want to risk injuries to key players or even red-cards before the knockouts, so the first eleven they field will also be a tricky choice.
For example, Simon Grayson of BFC might choose not to start with his top strikers Sunil Chhetri and Roy Krishna or MDSP’s Russian coach Andrey Chernyshov might want to test his team’s teeth without Trinidadian star Marcus Joseph in the starting eleven.
However, both gaffers will do well not to disturb their team’s rhythm too much as Bengaluru found out in their previous game against FC Goa when they were held to a 2-2 draw after being 2-0 ahead.
MDSP has also been very pleasing to the eye thus far, notching up three wins out of three and Chernyshov would be mindful that that is a good habit to pick up.
Both teams have quality players in all positions who can make an impact on the game with their skills and it will be an interesting battle to generate confidence and momentum ,before the larger ones ahead.
Report- Pratyusha Mukherjee
Source- Indian Army