I-League: Prayag look to extend lead

Last Updated: Thu, Oct 11, 2012 10:53 hrs

A rejuvenated Prayag United SC would be gunning to extend their winning form when they take on city giants Mohun Bagan in the second round of the I-League at Kolkata's Salt Lake Stadium on Friday (October 12).

Having played second fiddle to the bigwigs of the local hierarchy for a considerable period, United SC has evolved in a big way this season with a multi-crore purse and with star signings that has even outshone the traditional giants.

The target obviously stays the I-League title and United SC made the right start with a 5-1 win against Air India in the opener.

On the other hand, Mohun Bagan have failed to live upto the promise despite ruling the headlines in the pre-season transfers, where it affected a virtual coup roping in Australian striker Tolgay Ozbey from arch-rival East Bengal.

The impending contest will thus be a good assessment of the virtues that each team has set out to convince their supporters. The away match against Shillong Lajong FC in the opening round proved a disaster as Mohun Bagan lost the match 0-2 enraging the vast legion of fans.

"Our opponents are a strong one and high on confidence after a big win in the first match. My team is also good and hope that we start performing to our potential," Mohun Bagan coach Santosh Kashyap said.

Kashyap, like most of the team's supporters, has been hoping that the team's two big investments - Nigerian striker Odafa Okolie and Ozbey - would strike a good combination and get the goals. Bagan would also be looking for an effective coordination in its midfield and defence, which so far not been able to perform in consonance.

Prayag United coach Sanjoy Sen has been able to dispel the doubts, which had cropped up after the team's early exit from the Federation Cup, with the morale-boosting win against Air India in the first round. The coach's target now will be ensuring a level of consistency.

"As far as I remember Prayag United have never lost to Mohun Bagan during my tenure," Sen banked on this enviable record ahead of the second round test. "Our team is in good shape especially after the big win in the first round."

Sen is particularly confident with the way his two foreigners Nigerian Ranty Martins - who scored a hat-trick - and Costa Rican Carlos Hernandes combined in realising the win against Air India.

However, Prayag United will be missing the services of its Nigerian defender Bello Rasaq, who is suspended because of a red card he received in the previous match. Indian international Gouramangi Singh, who missed the first match with fever, is set to return and would have to shoulder the responsibility of holding Mohun Bagan's famed attack in absence of Rasaq.

The kick-off is at 2.30 pm.

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