Super Cup final: Battle of attrition awaits Bengaluru FC against Odisha FC

ISL controversy Kerala Blasters Bengaluru FC Sunil Chhetri
Bengaluru will be vying for their second Super Cup crown after winning the first edition in Bhubaneswar in 2018. File photo: Twitter/Bengaluru FC

Bengaluru FC and Odisha FC will be involved in a war of attrition when they lock horns in the final of the Super Cup, here on Tuesday.

While Bengaluru will be vying for their second Super Cup crown after winning the first edition in Bhubaneswar in 2018, it will be Odisha’s maiden attempt to claim any silverware. Both the teams qualified for the ISL play-offs this season. Odisha lost out to ATK Mohun Bagan at the first hurdle while Bengaluru made it to the final but went down to the same opposition on penalties.

Tuesday’s summit clash at EMS Corporation Stadium will be Bengalurus third final of the season. They lifted the Durand Cup in September last year, where they also met Odisha in the quarter-final stage. Roy Krishna’s 121st-minute winner made the difference in a nail-biting contest on that occasion.

Bengaluru have had their fair share of tight matches in the Super Cup. Simon Grayson’s men emerged toppers in a closely-contested Group A, finishing above Sreenidi Deccan FC, Kerala Blasters FC and RoundGlass Punjab FC with five points. In the semi-final, after keeping Jamshedpur at bay in the first half thanks to goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s heroics, Bengaluru powered through in the second half with goals from Jayesh Rane and captain Sunil Chhetri.

If Bengaluru win the final on Tuesday, they will also contest the Club Play-offs for the AFC Cup Group Stage against Gokulam Kerala. Representing India on the continental stage after two years is the main prize for the club, according to captain Sunil Chhetri.

“Winning the AFC Cup play-off will be the ultimate thing. Everything comes secondary. We have been fortunate to play in a lot of AFC tournaments, but we weren’t there in the last couple of years. We will do everything to get back,” said Chhetri. Odisha head coach Clifford Miranda said there is no pressure on them. “To be honest, we don’t approach this match as a first final. For us, it’s another game where we have to do the right things against a very good opponent,” he said.

Odisha have made a habit of coming from behind to win games recently. They made it to the last four after overcoming a one-goal deficit at half-time to beat Hyderabad FC 2-1 in their last game in Group B. In the semi-finals, Odisha found themselves a goal down against NorthEast United FC inside the opening minute, but Nandha Kumar’s brace turned the tie for them before Diego Maurício added a third late on to kill the contest.

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