Chennaiyin and FC Goa are two teams desperately seeking glory for very different reasons.
If one team pushed the self-destruct button on their title defence, the other impressed the audience all the way upto the grand finale where they were beaten by eventual winners Bengaluru FC. The chance to cap the season off with a trophy, in both cases, is something that will excite both these candidates.
FC Goa have made it look easy
FC Goa went into the tournament without Ahmed Jahouh, one of their most influential players. Despite his absence, the Gaurs were able to continue with their flowing football and eye-pleasing style of play.
They started off with a 3-0 thrashing of a confident Indian Arrows in the Round-of-16. Floyd Pinto's young team had knocked Kerala Blasters out in the qualifier but were no match for the Gaurs.
FC Goa took on Jamshedpur in the quarter-final and having gone winless against the Men of Steel in the ISL this season, Sergio Lobera's men were once again made to work hard. They played out a thrilling game that ended 4-3 in their favour.
The semi-final, which was a most-anticipated clash between I-League champions and ISL runners' up FC Goa, two teams who played attractive football, was made a one-sided affair by Ferran Corominas and co. The Spanish striker, who was the topscorer in the ISL this season, grabbed a brace and Brandon Fernandes added to the scoreline as Goa made it a cakewalk and wrapped up a 3-0 victory.
Chennaiying seeking restitution
Chennaiyin went on doing their bit in the Super Cup as if the league season did not take place. The identity of John Gregory's team in the Super Cup was completely different from how they choked and struggled their way through the 2018-19 ISL season. It was quite unbecoming of a team looking to defend their title as they almost seemed to accept their fate of a bottom-placed finish as the season wore on.
This Super Cup campaign has been Chennaiyin's way of rising like a pheonix for they have looked fully upto the task. They started with a win against a weakened Mumbai City FC and followed it up by defeating NorthEast United and ATK. Interestingly, they have conceded just one goal in the process.
Dhanpal Ganesh's return to the midfield and Anirudh Thapa's recovery of his form has fuelled Chennaiyin's resurgence. The defence, led by Mailson Alves, has finally found its feet and Karanjit Singh has produced crucial saves in goal. Thapa put on a solid show against ATK in the semi-final, scoring a goal and setting up another to help his team book a place in the final.
Jeje Lalpekhlua and CK Vineeth have coughed up a total of three goals and Gregory will demand more from the duo in the final. Winning the Super Cup might not make up for their failed title defence but it will help them add a third trophy to their cabinet after five seasons of existence.