2024 Kalinga Super Cup Matchday 3 Preview: Kolkata Derby and Odisha vs Goa in the spotlight of Group Stage Climax
As we are inching towards Matchday 3 of the 2024 Kalinga Super Cup, it is time for the final chapter of group stages to take place.
Matchday 2 witnessed the end of the title contention hopes of many participants including defending champions Bengaluru and the current ISL table-toppers Kerala Blasters.
The Group A clashes will bring up the flavor of intense rivalry in the Matchday 3 saga as the anticipated action will be commencing with the newly ignited Hyderabad Derby between Hyderabad and Sreenidi Deccan at 2 PM on Friday.
After losing both of their group fixtures, the Nizams are still searching for their maiden point in the 2024 edition of the Super Cup. The 2021-22 ISL champions will be eyeing this forthcoming game to not only end their campaign on a high note but also prove dominance in the City of Hyderabad.
On the other hand, the Deccan Warriors have also been eliminated from the semi-final race after losing two consecutive matches. A win from here will certainly boost the confidence of the gaffer Carlos Vaz Pinto and his boys in their ongoing I-League race with Mohammedan and Real Kashmir.
Then the caravan will be moving towards an even more fierce derby clash between the arch-rivals Mohun Bagan Super Giant and East Bengal to battle for the solitary semi-final ticket at Kalinga Stadium.
Despite the managerial changes in the coaching staff, interim boss Clifford Miranda ensured that the Mariners scrubbed their poor recent record with two wins in the bag. The re-appointed MBSG gaffer Antonio Lopez Habas has taken over the reins from Miranda as this will be the very first assignment of his new tenure.
The Torchbearers are just a win away from their first knockout qualification in this competition since their runners-up prowess in the inaugural season. It is a golden opportunity for the Red and Gold Brigade to avenge their Durand Cup Final defeat by eliminating the traditional enemies from the semi-final race.
Group B action will commence at Kalinga Stadium Pitch 1 where Jamshedpur and bottom-placed Shillong Lajong will lock horns in a dead-rubber game.
The Meghalaya-based club showcased fine performances against ISL outfits in both of their previous appearances but eventually ended up on the losing side. This is a final opportunity for Lajong to prove their calibre against the top division sides and boost the roster’s morale with a point to their name.
Surprising everyone, it is the team which has currently occupied the 10th place in the league standings and became the first side to qualify for Super Cup knockouts. The Red Miners under the regime of Khalid Jamil are focused on continuing their triumph-chariot and barge into the penultimate round with an invincible group record.
The most anticipated Group B fixture will be played at the main pitch of Kalinga Stadium between two ISL powerhouses Kerala Blasters and NorthEast United at 7:30 PM. A 3-2 losing outcome at the hands of Jamshedpur in the opening group match has sidelined the Blasters from the knockout picture.
It will mark the end of the Super Cup campaign for both of these combatants but the Highlanders would want to give their best before they resume the ISL season where Juan Pedro Benali’s side is staking a claim for one of the six available playoff spots.
The Super Sunday saga in Matchday 3 will witness two familiar foes who once used to fight for the I-League supremacy re-igniting the rivalry once again.
Gokulam Kerala kicked off in style as they were leading against the Islanders by 1-0 at half-time but they miserably failed to utilize it into results. Meanwhile, Punjab held the Marina Machans for a 1-1 draw and also came very close to stunning the heavyweights Mumbai City in their recent appearance which they eventually lost on a 3-2 scoreline.
It will be the Battle of Pride for both combatants as they have already been eliminated and their Super Cup journey is bound to finish after this game. The Kozhikode-based outfit will be leaving no stone unturned to save themselves from the hat-trick of defeats while three points from here may reward the Northern Shers with a second-place finish.
Then the spotlight will shift towards the evening fixture between ISL’s only double winners Mumbai City and two-time ISL champions Chennaiyin which will take place on the main pitch at 7:30 PM.
The Islanders are favorites to seal the semi-final berth on Sunday, having won both of their group games in a convincing manner. Mumbai City has never made it to the semi-final stages of this competition and a Round of 16 exit caused by this very same opponent will be an added motivation for the Islanders.
Chennnaiyin’s draw outcome against the Northern Shers has cost them big chunks as they are bearing a two-point deficit with the table-toppers. This is going to be a do-or-die game for the Marina Machans as even a draw will result in their eventual elimination.
Matchday 3 action will continue till Monday when the fourth and final entrant to the semi-final round will be determined. The runners-up of the previous edition, Bengaluru will take on the debutant Inter Kashi side in the opening fixture of the day.
The absence of the skipper Sunil Chhetri due to national duty has weakened the offensive department of the Blues as they have not scored a single goal in this tournament. Gerard Zaragoza had a forgettable first assignment with his new employer and is expected to test his bench strength in order to make preparations for the second half of ISL.
Making their maiden Super Cup appearance, the UP Orangers impressed everyone and will be taking many lessons to return next season with even greater contention for the prestigious title. Inter Kashi finishing above the Blues in the group stages will be a delightful treat for the club’s passionate supporters who are witnessing massive progress over a short span of time.
The caravan of the group stage matches will conclude with a high-voltage battle between Goa and Odisha as the ticket to the semi-final round will be on the line.
Sergio Lobera who guided the Gaurs in their Super Cup-winning glory in the 2019 edition is now standing between Goa’s dream of reclaiming the title. The Juggernauts have not lost a single Super Cup game since shifting their base to Bhubaneswar and even went on to grace the champions’ podium in April 2023.
Odisha and Goa are also battling against each other for the ISL title this season and maintained their position in the top three before heading for a mid-season break. Both of them started their campaigns as title-favorites and the winner of this virtual quarter-final clash will surely be considered the prime contender to lift the silverware among all four semi-finalists.