GOA: The hosts Goa welcome Bengal in the final of the 71st National Football Championship for 2017 Santosh Trophy on Sunday, in a similar scenario of the 2009 final which saw Goa’s victory over Bengal.

Two unbeaten sides face each other in the biggest game of the competition. Goa will be chasing for their 6th title while Bengal look set to capture their 32nd overall and first since 2011.

Interestingly, when the last time Goa hosted the Santosh Trophy final round in 1996, the very same teams faced off in the final with Bengal scoring a 1-0 win.

Goa edged past Kerala in a nervy semi-final encounter, courtesy a fine first-half brace from Liston Colaco and will carry the advantage of being the home side. Whereas, Bengal were pushed to their limits by Mizoram in other semi-final and secured their spot in the final after surviving a penalty shootout thanks to their custodian Sankar Roy who made two saves in the shootout.

Mateus Costa, who led Goa to the Santosh Trophy final after 8 years sounded confident before the final, “We are pretty confident about our team and we are most likely to feature an unchanged eleven tomorrow. Once we play up to our potential, we can lift the trophy.”

“The hopes are high for the final, but only one team can finish it off as the winner. It will obviously be a comfortable atmosphere for us because it’s our home crowd but the crowd don’t play. Whoever wins tomorrow needs to earn the trophy by playing well.”  He further added.

Goa love to sit back and plan their moves to the opposition. They have frustrated many teams with this style of play as they latch quick counter attacks orchestrated by Liston Colaco.

The 19-year old has so far scored thrice in the competition and will provide a stiff challenge for the Bengal defense. Furthermore, the likes of Peter Carvalho, Nicolau Colaco, Cajetan Fernandes, Brian Mascarenhas and skipper Francis Fernandes will add depth to the squad.

Goa has so far scored 7 goals and conceded five in their run up to the final, whereas Bengal scored 4 themselves and yet to concede a goal. However, neither side have impressed on a regular basis, and one wonders whether they are holding something back for this stage.

It promises to be a very absorbing encounter at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim, as the two standout teams in the tournament meet. It is one game where the finest details will surely decide the final outcome for the match. The best tactics on the day win the match for the respective team.

The match kicks off at 6.00 PM on Sunday and will be telecast LIVE on DD Sports.

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