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Exciting final on the cards

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The strategic acumen of Chirag United and the robust character that signifies JCT's football should make the visit to Ambedkar Stadium on Sunday for the final of the Durand Cup a worthy experience for the football fans of the capital. JCT has won the title five times, the last being 15 years ago. Chirag United plays its first final.

The teams bring contrasting styles into play, thanks to the legacy that Subrata Bhattacharya and Parminder Singh bring to their jobs as the managers of the Chirag United and JCT respectively. They have many inspiring tales to share and anecdotes to regale from some stirring contests at this very venue from their heyday as players but their roles have changed.

They now try and give shape to their ideas from the bench, pleading at times, screaming mostly, their agony and delight not in their control.

But what they control is the mind of the players who are lucky enough to be helped by such stalwarts from the past when football at the Ambedkar Stadium was a joyful experience.

Bhattacharya has won the Durand title as a player for Mohun Bagan on eight occasions and once as a coach for the same club in 2000. For Parminder, this is his first assignment with JCT as a coach after spending many seasons as Sukhwinder Singh's deputy. If Bhattacharya was a tenacious defender, Parminder was a crafty ball player, both a force to reckon with in their own manner. Both have remained highly motivating figures and it is for the teams now to emulate some of their good deeds.

Big names have fallen

This year, bigger names have fallen by the wayside. East Bengal looked out of place in the semifinal against Chirag United and suffered from overconfidence. Churchill Brothers, the defending champion, paid the price for complacency against JCT. The teams that showed discipline and consistency have taken a rightful place in the final.

Joshimar da Silva will be the key to Chirag United's campaign. His hat-trick against Air India has been one of the highlights of the tournament and this big-match player has the capacity to scatter the opposition with sudden bursts of speed.

JCT too has a wily performer in Ibrahim Keke, who can be used in any position on the turf. His versatility should guide JCT when it matters.

Pawan Kumar under the goal is JCT's strength. Chirag United has a tough defence. JCT prefers to stick to a 4-4-2 combination. Chirag United believes in flexibility, thanks mainly to Bhattacharya's insistence on adapting as the game unfolds.

He played his football by instinct. So did Parminder. How they analyse and adapt should add to the excitement. A generous spectator-participation would add to the glory of the closing act of this edition of the tournament — now in its 123rd year.

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