Kochi: Mohun Bagan captain Okolie Odafe feels this time Federation Cup will be Mohun Bagan’s.
“I do not know why, but I have this feeling. This time it will be ours,” Odafe said on Thursday. Bagan have hardly won anything ever since Odafe joined and the Nigerian knows that.
“Look football is a team game. Everyone needs to chip in if you want success. This team is doing just that. I haven’t won the Federation Cup and so I want to win this Cup, I am desperate to win the title. We have the right team spirit and everyone is thinking very positively. The mood in the dressing room also is very vibrant.”
Odafe though is not taking Churchill Brothers lightly. “Oh, they are a great side. The only team who have won all their group league matches. So if you think we are already in the final then you are calling for disaster. They are not in the semis just to fill up the number,” Odafe said.
Odafe was substituted against Salgaocar the other day, but he is okay with that. “We were almost through to the semis. So coach (Karim Bencharifa) did the right thing by giving some rest.”
Karim says that hard work since July is finally paying off. “The season didn’t start the way we would have wanted to. But now we are getting into the groove,” he said.
There is a feeling that Bagan’s win over East Bengal in the CFL Derby gave a massive boost to the team’s morale. Karim, though, doesn’t believe that.
“No it’s not true. Things were starting to fall into place even before that match. It’s just that everything got magnified after we beat East Bengal.”
Bagan have not won any major trophy in the last three seasons. So does it put him under pressure?
“No, not pressure. But it eggs me on. I have told the boys that we cannot let down the fans this time. Two more wins and the Cup will be ours,” he said.
Karim said Churchill’s two foreigners — Anthony Wolfe and Abdelhamid Shabana — will be the men to watch out for.
“Those two really good. We have to be very organised at the back. In the Salgaocar match, we did make some mistakes and I told the boys not to repeat those. It’s a knockout match and one mistake might force us to take the exit route,” he said.
The Bagan camp was not too happy with the way Kerala Football Association (KFA) treated them. The association did not send a bus to their team hotel and after waiting for an hour Karim and his men had to arrange for vehicles on their own.
“These things hamper planning. An hour late to the ground on the eve of the semi-final is not done,” a senior footballer said.
The KFA, when contacted said they had no intimation about Bagan’s practice schedule. “It’s a trivial matter. Some sort of miscommunication. It has been sorted out,” a KSFA official said on Wednesday evening.