Can Toyota beat Ferrari? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 10, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:51 AM, January 10, 2021

Can Toyota beat Ferrari?

Paul Put’s Saif take on Bruzon’s Kings in final today

It should be a battle between the experience and riches of Bashundhara Kings against the youthful exuberance of Saif Sporting Club in the final of the Walton Federation Cup as the country's football begins to see shift of power.

Both finalists are fairly new in professional football – just over four years old and are regarded as the forerunners of football professionalism, yet the return to investments have been widely diverging for the two sides.

Bashundhara Kings have reaped rich rewards for investing heavily on star players, bagging a Championship League, a Premier League, a Federation Cup and an Independence Cup title in the last three years while Saif SC, who took a more development-based approach, are still trying to find their feet at the highest level after finishing runners-up in their debut season in the Championship League.

That Saif made it to the final of the Federation Cup this time took many people by surprise, including their Belgian coach Paul Put.

"Nobody was expecting what we have been showing. We have already made history and if we win, we will be making more history," the journeyman coach told media at the team hotel yesterday afternoon.

The 64-year-old coach has an enviable CV and it will be further enriched if his side can upset the defending champions today in the battle of 'Toyota' versus 'Ferrari' according to him.

His side has already achieved more than his seven predecessors did by being in the final. They won all their group stage matches before getting the better off Mohammedan in a marathon tiebreak in quarterfinals. And then a 3-0 win over Chattogram Abahani sealed their final berth.

Saif may have a developing squad with a handful of national team players, but they too have a decent assortment of Nigerian recruits including the tournament's top-scorer Kenneth Ikechukwu. And in spite of their predominantly counter-attacking based approach, Paul Put's charges have racked up the highest number of goals in the tournament so far.

Bashundhara Kings have had a similar journey to that of Saif into the final, with the extra-time win against record 11-time champions Abahani proving to be a real test of the champions' character.

Kings have been through a bit of a rebuilding of their own following the departures of Daniel Colindres and Hernan Barcos over the last year, but their new acquisitions -- Raul Becerra, Jonathan Fernandes, Robson Robinho and Khaled Shafiei -- have proved to be able replacements.

With a host of national team players retained from the previous season, Oscar Bruzon's Kings are not only the best team in the country, but also one of the best of the region.The Spaniard is relentless in his pursuit of titles with an aggressive brand of football, and anything but a victory today, even against an impressive Saif, would be a disappointment.

Bruzon, however, was cautious in his assessment of the opposition as he urged his team to show no complacency.

"We have strong belief in ourselves. But if we consider ourselves as favourites, we begin to lose. We have to be humble. We are playing against a team who play positive football," Bruzon said at the pre-final press meet at the BFF House.

Whatever it is dubbed -- Toyota v Ferrari or young v experienced -- the final of the season's curtain-raising tournament -- scheduled to kick off at the Bangabandhu National Stadium at 4:00pm today – promises to be a blockbuster affair.

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