East Bengal, Salgaocar set for final

East Bengal and Salgaocar will lock horns in the final of the 33rd Federation Cup at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Thursday.

East Bengal coach Trevor Morgan

The match sees East Bengal, coached by Trevor Morgan - hunting their third straight Federation Cup title following wins in Guwahati (2009) and Cuttack (2010). Reigning I-League champions Salgaocar SC will be playing in their first Federation Cup final in 14 years, with the Goan outfit looking to repeat their 1997 heroics when they beat East Bengal 2-1.

East Bengal's passage to the final has, however, been far from easy. They first had to beat Dempo 1-0 in their final group match to progress to the semi-finals, before coming from behind to win 2-1 against nine-man Prayag United.

Going into Thursday's showdown, there is a major injury concern surrounding key playmaker Mehtab Hussain, although striker Robin Singh will be free from suspension.

With Morgan declaring that his side will be underdogs, Salgaocar - coached by Moroccan Karim Bencherifa who was crowned India's best coach by the Football Players Association of India on Monday - also have fitness concerns surrounding defender Luciano Sabrosa. Mehrajuddin Wadoo will definitely miss the match through suspension.

Meanwhile, the All India Football Federation has confirmed that Bencherifa has emerged as a strong favourite to land the national team post.

Current incumbent Armando Colaco has already refused the one-year contract offered to him, and AIFF senior vice-president believes Bencherifa may well be the man to take the helm.

"Colaco has refused the one-year contract and Bencherifa certainly has emerged a frontrunner. The emergency committee of AIFF will meet next month to decide on the next coach," Dutta said.

Bencherifa is no stranger to India, having previously coached both Churchill Brothers and Mohun Bagan.

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