New Delhi: Can Mohammedan Sporting break the jinx would be the question in mind of every football fan in the capital when the Calcutta outfit play ONGC in the final of the 126thDurand Cup, on Thursday.
Despite having the distinction of being the first Indian team to win the Durand in 1940, Mohammedan Sporting could never repeat their success since then. They made the final on three more occasions but ended up on the losing on all occasions.
Thursday’s final would definitely be Mohammedan’s best chance to win the Durand after 73 years. Apart from being the best team on paper, they have also displayed considerable dominance in all their matches.
Mohammedan’s most impressive outing was in the semi-final when they defeated Mumbai Tigers 3-1 in the semi-final.
Like all Indian teams, Mohammedan, too, are heavily dependent on foreigners. Under the new rule, only two foreigners could be played in non-AIFF tournaments and Mohammedan are supposed to field Brazilian Luciano in defence and Penn Orji in the midfield.
Mohammedan’s other two foreigners — Tolgey and Joshimar — were left to warm the bench for most part of the tournament and coach Abdul Aziz are unlikely to bring them for the final.
Aziz said his team was focussed and looking to win the trophy. “I don’t know much about when happened in the past but my boys are strong enough to win the Cup,” he said.
Gone are the days when Durand Cup was country’s number one tournament and tickets were often sold in black for the semi-finals and final. The organisers have now turned it into a gate free meet but not more than one thousand people turned up in the penultimate rounds.
ONGC, on the other hand, would like to prove a point. A decent team, they played well in the I-League last season. Yet, the AIFF threw them out on technical grounds.
Kick off at 5.45 pm.