Panaji: The Goa Football Federation (GFA) is confident of hosting a successful Federation Cup despite hurdles the once popular tournament faces.
The Federation Cup beginning December 28 is Indian football's blue-riband event but the buzz surrounding the tournament has been visibly missing.
There are no hoardings seen across cities, no appealing promos on television and newspaper coverage has been minimal. But despite all the shortfalls and lack of publicity, the GFA is confident that the Federation Cup will find a connect with the fans.
"The competition level in the Federation Cup will be just as good. All that we need is crowd support," said GFA president Elvis Gomes.
The event has restricted itself to 10 best teams in the country with last season's winners, Churchill Brothers, the only notable absentee. Churchill failed to meet the stringent club licensing criteria and were robbed of the chance to defend the trophy they won against all odds in Kochi early this year.
The rest, though, will be out there in full force and even though the level of preparations will not be as immaculate, and lavish, as the ISL, no team will be short on motivation.
"This is such a prestigious tournament that we will not need an additional dose of motivation. For Dempo, it's been a long time since we won the tournament so it's imperative that we put our best foot forward," said Dempo SC midfielder Clifford Miranda, who was also part of FC Goa in the ISL.
The GFA is hoping success of the ISL will rub off on the Federation Cup and supporters will throw their weight behind the tournament just like they did in 2005 when the tournament was last held in Goa.
"The 2005 final was a sell out and that time the stadium had a capacity of 28,000. People were left out," recalled Elvis.
The 2005 event saw local favourites Sporting Clube de Goa climb their way to the final, only to be derailed by the now-disbanded Mahindra United as Brazilian Jose Ramirez Barreto nodded home the winner just 30 seconds before the final whistle.
Salgaocar striker Darryl Duffy added: "The ISL was a massive success and it showed what can be done with Indian football if done correctly," the Scottish striker said.
The ISL, it needs no reminding, was a runaway hit as fans thronged stadiums in droves and several promising players punched above their weight.