East Bengal FC and Jamshedpur FC are set to battle it out for a place in the Kalinga Super Cup final on Wednesday. Both teams haven’t enjoyed the best first halves in the Indian Super League (ISL) this season with neither team occupying the playoff spots. So the Kalinga Super Cup presents a great chance for both sides to launch their campaigns.
East Bengal FC and Jamshedpur FC enter the semi-finals with perfect group-stage campaigns. The Red and Gold brigade have carried good recent form in the league into the Super Cup while the Men of Steel are witnessing a revival under new head coach Khalid Jamil.
The two sides have similarities with both teams’ strengths being their defensive capabilities. The two teams have kept nine clean sheets among them. However, the semi-final despite the two sides’ defensive capabilities is most likely to be decided at the other end of the pitch.
Neither team has been prolific in the ISL this season with East Bengal FC scoring 11 goals to Jamshedpur FC’s 12. But their impressive run in the Cup would tell you that the two teams have matchwinners at the top end of the pitch that can make a big difference, especially in knockout games.
Cleiton Silva of East Bengal FC and Daniel Chima Chukwu of Jamshedpur FC are talismans to their respective sides and their results are often dependant on how the two players perform.
In the Kalinga Super Cup, Silva is the leading goalscorer with four goals and Chukwu is just a goal behind with three goals. Without their goals, both East Bengal FC and Jamshedpur FC would have had five fewer points in the group stage of the competition and thus would not have made it to the last four of the competition.
In ISL 2023-24 too these two players have contributed largely to their teams’ success. With five goals each, both Silva and Chukwu have single-handedly won their teams three points each this season.
Their roles in the team aren’t just limited to scoring goals but also creating them for their teammates. Although neither player has recorded an assist in the ISL this season, both players have created plenty of opportunities for the side.
Silva has created 16 chances for the Red and Gold brigade while Chukwu has produced 13 such chances for the Men of Steel.
The two forwards’ impact on their respective teams isn’t limited to this season. The two players were influential even last season. Silva won East Bengal FC 10 points through his 12 goals and was the shining light in an otherwise disappointing campaign.
Chukwu’s statistics aren’t as impressive with him netting just five goals but he also spent time on the sidelines last season. However, he created 33 chances for Jamshedpur FC and if the Men of Steel were more clinical in front of goal, the story of their season could have been a lot different. In comparison, Silva created 20 chances for East Bengal FC in 2022-23.
So, the semi-final in the Kalinga Super Cup between these two teams could come down to which of these players is able to have a bigger influence on the game.
Both head coaches will be pinning their hopes on their two talismans to deliver the goods. And as the stakes get higher in the Kalinga Super Cup, expect Cleiton Silva and Daniel Chima Chukwu to rise to the occasion.