Giantkillers Aizawl FC would be hoping to complete an extraordinary fairytale while heavyweights Mohun Bagan seek a domestic silverware after the I-League disappointment when the two sides take on each other in the summit clash of the Federation Cup in Guwahati on Saturday.
Aizawl began as underdogs but went on to become giantkillers as they beat I-League champions Bengaluru FC 5-3 on aggregate in the quarterfinals before getting the better of Sporting Clube de Goa in the semifinals, and now they would hope to create history at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium.
The Northeast side have been playing for the first time in the tournament after finishing eighth in the nine-team I-League in their debut season in top flight domestic football.
Aizawl can also take inspiration from their 2-1 win over Mohun Bagan in the I-League. It was Aizawl who had halted the Kolkata club’s unbeaten run, a result which perhaps cost Mohun Bagan the I-League title.
“We have defeated Mohun Bagan before and we can defeat them again. We are all united for the cause and we are all hoping that the result sways in our favour,” Aizawl coach Jahar Das said ahead of the final.
“We will be playing as if it will be the last day on Earth. Obviously we have to be at our best against Mohun Bagan,” he added.
“I have been vocal in my appreciation of the players. I told them that your value as players has risen because of your performance in the Federation Cup. I have also told that if you can raise your performance to a higher level in the Final, your value will further increase,” Das said.
Aizawl’s biggest challenge will be to contain the rampaging Mohun Bagan forwardline. The three foreign recruits -- Sony Norde, Cornell Glen and Yusa Katsumi -- have been in devastating form. Add to that, the form of Jeje Lalpekhlua, and Mohun Bagan’s four-man army have shown sheer magic.
Meanwhile, Mohun Bagan head coach Sanjoy Sen refused to brand his side as the favourites and Aizawl FC as the underdogs, going into the finals.
“It will be foolish to say Mohun Bagan are the favourites,” Sen stated.
“Aizawl FC have proved themselves in this competition and they deserve to be in the Final. We respect our opponents. It will be a tough match for us,” he added.