Federation Cup Semi-Final Preview: East Bengal Vs. Prayag United SC - The Champions Versus The Underdogs
Federation Cup holders Salgaocar take on their cross town rivals Prayag UnitedSC in the second semi-final of the 33rd Federation Cup. Goal.com previews the contest...
By Kratik Malhotra
Competition: Federation Cup Second Semi-Final
Venue: Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata
Kick-Off: Monday, 26th September, 06:00 PM IST
(Live on DD Sports & News Time at 6 PM)
The Defending Champions: East Bengal
Considering their strength and depth, many had penned them down as their personal favourites to progress through from Group C – marked as the group of death involving the defending Federation Cup champions coupled with Dempo SC, Pune FC and Mohammedan Sporting – to reach the semi-finals of the competition. However, it was certainly not a pleasing start for the men in red and gold as East Bengal kicked off their campaign following a rather stuttering display, managing to only draw their opening encounter against Mohammedan SC.
With people pointing fingers at them, they silenced their critics in their second game by outdoing the Red Lizards from Pune 2-1 to sit pretty in the group table when the young striker, Robin Singh won the game for the former I-League champions after the newly recruited Scottish striker Alan Gow’s first half goal was cancelled out by Jeje Lalpekhlua early in to the second half. Taking the momentum into their final game, the team from the east beat Armando Colaco’s Dempo 1-0 in what was a virtual quarter-final clash with Robin once again on the scoresheet.
Will He Strike Gold?
However, now looking on to this big semi-final clash, all is not well as suspensions and injuries could well spoil the East Bengal party. Robin Singh is suspended, while key players Mehtab HUssain, Raju Gaikwad, Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Alan Gow and Tolgay Ozbey are doubtful for the game with Mehtab the most unlikely of the lot to feature and thus, his absence could potentially change the whole system. Others mentioned are uncertain to start but not unlikely.
If Mehtab is fit: He will ply his trade as the deep-lying play-maker. But if Mehtab fails start, Morgan will line his team up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Penn and Paite providing extra-cover to the central midfield.
East Bengal may have progressed through to the semi-final of the 2011 Federation Cup but they haven’t been particularly convincing, having only scored four goals in the competition so far. If they need to do well, apart from HUssain who has been brilliant but may not play, their midfield needs to shine for them. Overcoming Prayag United SC won’t be easy and battling injuries, Morgan’s boys would certainly have to come up with a special display to finish on top.
The Underdogs: Prayag Untied SC
Just like East Bengal, Prayag United SC also played its early round in the Indian football capital, Kolkata. However, as compared to the Red and Gold brigade, Prayag United SC, which was last season Chirag United SC before getting re-branded and renamed, found themselves in the relatively easy Group-D alongside Chirag United Kerala, Sporting Club de Goa and the Air India FC.
Riding on a goal by Brazilian striker Josimar, Prayag earned all three points from their opening fixture against Chirag United Kerala. However, their next result took their qualification to the next round as Air India provided them a stern test and snatched off a point in a goalless draw. Sanjay Sen’s boys then responded well to the challenge and registered an impressive 2-1 win over their Goan counterparts, Sporting to ensure their passage to the semi-final.
Can They Pull It Off?
Sanjay Sen is expected to line-up his team in a 4-4-2 formation with wingers, Denson Devadas and Gouranga Dutta filling the areas of attack where they have been so good in the group stages, on the flanks. With Josimar da Silva Martins and Yusif Yakubu holding the front line for Prayag, the match between the two Kolkata teams seems set to be a closely contested one.
As mentioned, the defending champions, East Bengal have found it hard to find the net and have scored only four goals in the three matches that they have played so far in the tournament. Prayag United, on the other hand, have been strong defensively having only conceded one goal in their three group games.
Prayag will be no rollovers and will be in for a fight against a weakened East Bengal. With either team only two steps away from lifting the trophy, there is no room for any sort of slackness because realistically, in a one-off tie anything is possible. Thus, if Prayag defend well and manage to nick a goal, a surprise result may well be on the cards.
Mehtab Hussain is a serious doubt for this match and there is a high chance that he may not even feature in the fixture. Also, as mentioned, Raju Gaikwad, Harmanjot Singh Khabra, Alan Gow and Tolgay Ozbey may not be pronounced fit but are expected play some part in the game. Robin Singh is suspended.
Prayag United SC:
There may not be are no major injury concerns for Sen although he did confirm that there were few niggles here and there, most notable to the side’s Brazilian forward, Josimar. However, the striker is likely to feature in the starting line-up.
Player To Watch:
East Bengal - Alan Gow:
Every single time you look at Alan play, he underlines the difference that exists in between the game here in India and that in the United Kingdom. Gow has had an exceptional start to his East Bengal career, winning a ‘man of the match’ award in the first ever game he started on Indian soil, against Pune FC. His one touch passing skills has allowed the men in red and gold to play faster than expected and break quicker than lightening. The former Blackpool man is excellent in dead-ball situations with a superb left foot, making him to stand apart from the masses.
Prayag United – Yusif Yukubu
The former East Bengal man, Yusif Yakubu may come back to hurt the Red-and-Gold brigade. Apart from his time at East Bengal, Yakubu has also played for Churchill Brothers, Mahindra United and Salgaocar SC, before making his move to Prayag United SC. He has scored over 100 goals in the top tier of Indian football and still is considered as one of the finest foreign football players in the history of Indian football. With him leading the line so well and helping Karim Bencherifa’s Salgaocar SC to the I-League title last year, he will sure be Prayag’s trump card in pulling of an unlikely result against their local rivals.
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Top 3 Predictions
East Bengal F.C. 2-0 United Sports Club
- 26.92 %
East Bengal F.C. 2-1 United Sports Club
- 26.92 %
East Bengal F.C. 3-1 United Sports Club
- 19.23 %
|I-League (I-L)||28-Nov-2013||East Bengal F.C. 1 - United Sports Club 1|
|I-League (I-L)||29-Mar-2013||United Sports Club 2 - East Bengal F.C. 2|
|I-League (I-L)||16-Dec-2012||East Bengal F.C. 0 - United Sports Club 1|
|I-League (I-L)||31-Jan-2012||East Bengal F.C. 0 - United Sports Club 1|
|I-League (I-L)||29-Oct-2011||United Sports Club 1 - East Bengal F.C. 1|
|East Bengal F.C.|
|16-Apr-2014||Churchill Brothers SC 1 - East Bengal F.C. 0||I-L|
|12-Apr-2014||East Bengal F.C. 3 - Pune FC 1||I-L|
|05-Apr-2014||Mohd Sp 1 - East Bengal F.C. 3||I-L|
|30-Mar-2014||East Bengal F.C. 2 - Sporting Clube de Goa 1||I-L|
|26-Mar-2014||East Bengal F.C. 2 - Mumbai FC 2||I-L|
|8||Thokchom Naoba Singh||Defender|