NATIONAL FOOTBALL: Santosh Trophy Final Preview: Bengal vs Punjab – to win or not to … this time around ?!!
And here comes the final………..
By Rahul Sengupta
Time: 1700 IST, 8th August 2010
Venue: Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
Breaking The Jinx?
Bengal has by far been the most successful team in Santosh Trophy history having won the coveted title 29 times. However the 30th crown has been elusive for 11 years now and they have finished runners-up in the last two editions, losing on penalties on both occasions. (a little spin to lift spirits ?!!)
The entire Bengal squad is on a high on after defeating Goa on Friday evening in a dramatic semi-final clash.
However coach Shabbir Ali will surely not underestimate Punjab who have been playing some fine attacking football with striker Balwant Singh in fine form. The Bengal tactician is also concerned with the rising list of injured players which is hampering the team combination.
Three In Four Years?
Punjab coach Jaagir Singh has been at the helm of affairs for the last five years. Having won two Santosh Trophy titles in 07 and 08, he will be looking to make it three in four years.
After cruising past Tamil Nadu in the semis all eyes will be on the Punjabi lads as they take on hosts Bengal in the final. Coach Jaagir Singh is quite upbeat about the tie and has total faith in his boys.
Punjab held a light training session on Saturday morning and gave a lot of importance to set pieces. Defenders Ravinder Singh and Harpreet Singh will hold the key for Punjab’s success.
Bengal (4) 1 – 1 (3) Goa
Bengal 1 – 2 Tamil Nadu
Bengal 7 – 1 Mizoram
Punjab 3 – 1 Tamil Nadu
Punjab 1 – 0 Services
Punjab 0 – 3 Goa
Striker Nilendra Dewan is ruled out with a knee injury while ONGC forward Tarif Ahmed is also a doubtful starter following his injury in the calf muscle.
Punjab will miss defender Gurpreet Singh who has been ruled out due to suspension. New East Bengal signing Gurwinder Singh will replace him.
Bengal – Jayanta Sen
The talismanic midfielder of Chirag United has played a vital role in Bengal’s road to the final. Another top performance will be necessary for Bengal to win the tournament.
Punjab – Balwant Singh
The JCT striker, who was a part of India’s 2009 SAFF Cup winning team, has been the star for Punjab in their Santosh Trophy campaign. He will be looking to continue his good form in the final.
The Bengal defence has been shaky in each of their four matches so Punjab will be looking to expose that weakness.
Santosh Trophy : Team Unity Was The Reason Behind Reaching Finals – Bengal Goalkeeper Abhra Mondal – now to hold the Bengal fort ?!!
Goal.com’s Samay Gangar caught up with the young keeper after his brilliant display in the semi-final…
By Samay Gangar
07-Aug-2010 5:06:00 PM: Bengal reached the finals of the 64th Santosh Trophy on Friday beating Goa 4-3 on penalties with goalkeeper Abhra Mondal being the hero of the match pulling off two crucial saves. Goal.com caught up with the East Bengal star for his thoughts on the thrilling match.
We congratulated the young custodian on his team’s victory and asked him how he felt about making the two saves of John Dias and Nicholas Rodrigues which helped Bengal reach the final.
“Thanks a lot (smiles). It feels very good on having reached the finals. We had lost in the finals before and this year the tournament being on the home ground, it feels great to have defeated Goa which was a very strong side,” said Mondal.
Mondal explained that the unity of the team was the key factor in the team reaching the finals.
“We have 20 players in the squad. We have a great unit out here. This team has a very good fighting spirit and a winning mentality. The unity in this squad has been instrumental in us reaching the final of this tournament,” he said.
On being asked his thoughts about facing Punjab in the final again, Abhra, who was a part of the side that lost to Punjab in the 2006/07 Santosh Trophy final, admitted that the opponents have conceded very few goals in this tournament and have a good side. He also said that Punjab have a good balance of juniors and seniors and that the final will be closely contested and a good one.
It was at the start of 2010 that Mondal starred for East Bengal helping them win the Federations Cup. Is he the lucky charm for his team?
Mondal said that he just tries to contribute to the team’s cause. He pointed out that the club and state teams are very different and claimed that since latter is a “full Bengali side” unlike the former, it was an even better feeling.
HOWEVER LAST YEAR
Punjab win Santosh Trophy – confident again ?!!
SRINAGAR, India, Monday, 16 June 2008 14:05: Defending champions Punjab overcame the fancied Services team by a solitary goal to retain the 62nd National Football Championship (Santosh Trophy) title here on Sunday.
Punjab, who lost to Services 2-1 in the quarter-final league stage, were awarded a penalty in the 54th minute when Lala Ruatafela handled an aerial ball inside the box and Jaspal Singh easily converted the chance.
Trailing by a goal, Services, who qualified for the final after a 39-year gap, went on the offensive but failed to find the equaliser.
Earlier in the semi-finals, Punjab beat Karnataka 4-3 on penalties while Services brushed aside West Bengal 4-1, thanks to a hat-trick from Sochungmi Raleng.
Raleng, who scored 13 goals in the tournament, pocketed both the MVP and top goalscorer awards.