Apart from being the first Indian football tournament of the calender year, the recently concluded Federation Cup has given us invaluable insight into the form of players, clubs and management styles. In effect, it is the perfect preview for experts and fans to the I League.
In this year the Federation Cup, included just two groups, each group consisting of five teams with the top two teams from each group facing off against each other in a semifinal.
All group A encounters were played at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao. As a result, Dempo S.C and Sporting Clube de Goa were, in effect, playing at home. The group was completed by newly promoted Royal Wahingdoh, Mumbai F.C and East Bengal. East Bengal were tipped to finish at the apex of the group, followed by either of the Goan sides.
Dempo off to a flyer as Mumbai falter
Having been tipped as heavy favorites prior to the start of the tournament, Armando Colaco’s men were in for a rude shock. Their first game was against Arthur Papa’s Dempo S.C, and it meant that the Red and Gold Brigade had to deal with the hostile fans at the Fatorda. Both sides welcomed back players from the ISL, with all eyes focused on the Indian star of the ISL- Romeo Fernandes. The lanky midfielder did not fail to impress as he netted the only goal of the game, thus ensuring that the Golden Eagles got off to a fantastic start. It was pretty clear that there would be no pushovers in the competition, as newly promoted Royal Wahingdoh too pulled off a shock 2-1 victory over Khalid Jameel’s Mumbai F.C.
Dempo secure virtual qualification with Derby Win
The 1-0 victory over perhaps the strongest side on paper, renewed hopes of perhaps a second federation cup for Arthur Papas and his side. However, the next game was one of the countries fiercest derby matches. With the Fatorda Stadium home for both sides, three invaluable points as well as the bragging rights were at stake.
The fierce derby that we are used to seeing over the years was not meant to be, as the Golden Eagles blew away Sporting Clube de Goa. Tolgay Ozbey’s amazing form was there for all to see, as the Australian striker netted the first hattrick of the tournament, as the Flaming Oranje were blown away 4-1 by Dempo.
East Bengal and Sporting Goa play out seven goal thriller in Fatorda
With Dempo S.C securing qualification, and Mumbai and Royal Wahingdoh out of the mix, second place was up for grabs, as East Bengal and Sporting Goa took the field in a quarterfinal of sorts. The seven goal thriller was an important feat in the history of the Federation Cup, as yet another young Indian starlet Victorino Fernandes scored the second hattrick of the tournament. The Flaming Oranje secured qualification by a whisker, prevailing in a nail biting 4-3 victory over the much fancied East Bengal.
The thrilling contest ensured that both Goan sides had made their way to the semifinals of the Federation Cup.