Hero Super Cup Final: A Resurgent Chennaiyin FC Set to Face Silverware Seeking FC Goa
In the recently concluded Indian Super League season, Chennaiyin FC finished at the bottom of the table and Goa lost in the dying moments of the ISL’s final. Two times ISL champions Chennaiyin FC has found ways to make a comeback into the Hero Super Cup and FC Goa are desperate to lay their hands on their first silverware.
A repeat of the ISL final in 2015 where Chennaiyin FC beat FC Goa, this time around both teams would be meeting in similar fashion in the 2019 Hero Super Cup final at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. Beating ATK (Atelico de Kolkata) in the semi finals, the southern city football club has been in sublime form winning their last four matches. Meanwhile, FC Goa cruised past I-League champions Chennai City FC in the semi finals, deemed to be one of the toughest opponents in this season’s Super Cup.
John Gregory’s Chennaiyin FC displayed a poor performance in this season’s ISL just accumulating a total of 9 points, their worst record in ISL history. The team had to emerge sooner or later from their plight. The Hero Super Cup gave them the platform to return to winning ways and most importantly their key players returning to form.
The return of the midfield strongman Dhanpal Ganesh to the Chennaiyin squad, who missed the whole ISL due to injury, has worked wonders in the team’s tactical play. The holding midfielder’s presence has given freedom to other midfielders like Anirudh Thapa and Rafael Augusto to move further up into the opposition’s half. Forwards C K Vineeth and Jeje have also been in fine touch receiving and converting their midfield supply into goals, which had not been the case in ISL.
“We’re pleased to be in the final. We’ve worked really hard to be here. The only thought now is to win it. There is a fantastic spirit in the camp.”
-John Gregory, Manager of Chennaiyin FC
The Goans are playing in their second championship final in less than a month. Nicknamed “The Gaurs”, the coastal city lost to Bengaluru FC in the 2018/19 ISL final. The game was 50:50 on both sides and it looked the game was on the buy of a penalty shoot-out. Thanks to a stunning header by Rahul Bheke, Bengaluru FC won the title at the penultimate moment.
Sergio Lobera, FC Goa’s manager would not make the same mistake this time. Although he has guided his team efficiently, the trophy cabinet seems empty. The onus will be on Ferran Corominas, ISL’s top scorer this season and has scored 20 goals for FC Goa in all competitions so far. With stats looking more favourable to Goa than never before, it totally relies on how Sergio capitalises on it. Keeping the emotions at bay and playing composed football is what Sergio has to put forward going into the game.
“Very different team. As it is with each game. They are more compact than the teams we have faced so far. It is going to be a big challenge.”
Sergio Lobera, FC Goa manager on Chennaiyin FC as an opponent
Both teams deploy similar tactical formations. A narrowed 4-2-3-1 formation is what both managers prefer to play. With the midfielders backing the defense when out of possession and pressing in on the break, both the sides are on the same page of a well drilled style. Both Chennaiyin FC and FC Goa are chasing their maiden Hero Super Cup title and the team that commits the least errors in a similar style of play would etch their name on the trophy.
Defenders: Renthelei, Mailson, Eli, Jerry
Midfielders: Ganesh, Herd, Thapa, Raphael, Nelson
Forwards: C K Vineeth
GK: Mohammed Nawaz
Defenders: Carlos Pena, Seriton Fernandes, Saviour Gama, Mourtada Fall
Midfielders: Hugo Boumous, Brandon Fernandes, Lenny Rodrigues, Zaid Krouch, Jackichand