KOLKATA: Mohun Bagan and FC Pune City square off in the summit clash as the curtains on the 2017 U-19 IFA Shield folds up.
The two sides will meet in the ultimate game of the eight-team tournament, which has been highlighted by two-weeks of high class and entertaining football by the some of the finest youth talents in Indian football.
The encounter is a repeat of a Group-B clash which FC Pune City won 1-0, with a performance that earned them the favourites tag for the final.
However, Mohun Bagan have since recovered and beat the defending champions Tata Football Academy in their last group game which landed them a place at the last four.
Then, Mohun Bagan went on to beat Pathachakra 5-4 on penalties following a 0-0 draw in the semis and set up a date with FC Pune City in the decisive match on Sunday at Mohun Bagan Ground.
The secret behind the successful journey of Mohun Bagan has been the never give-up spirit of coach Jo Paul Ancheri and his charges, coupled with the support of the club faithfuls, who have stood firmly behind the team from the onset.
Despite winning all the titles at senior level to offer, Mohun Bagan has yet inscribe it’s name on a major youth trophy, and Ancheri believes this team can break that jinx by completing their remarkable journey with an win against FC Pune City.
FC Pune City still start as favourites, but Ancheri is targeting a sweet revenge that will land him the ultimate or congratulate FC Pune City if the results go the other way.
With the FC Pune City squad dominated by Pune FC academy cadets, the Mohun Bagan coach admits his players are short of experience but believes in their abilities to deliver in the biggest game of their young careers.
“The final is the most important game of my team at the tournament. It is important for the careers of the players, and we will take this opportunity with both hands. I am urging all the fans to come to the ground and rally behind the boys to achieve victory.” said Ancheri.
On the other hand, FC Pune City’s Spanish coach Roger Lamesa Grau is upbeat their chances against the home team, who will have a sizeable crowd support for the final.
“Mohun Bagan is a strong team. We have beaten them earlier in the tournament but playing in the final, anything can happen. I expect a high level game because both teams are hardworking. My players are well prepared for the challenge and I am hoping luck will be on our side to aid our efforts,” said Grau.