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Sanjoy Sen took charge of Prayag United in the summer of 2010, although they were still known as Chirag United Sports Club at the time. He led the club to an 8th place finish in the league in his first season in charge while they were also runners-up in the Durand Cup. Last season he guided the club to a 7th place finish after they were eliminated in the semi-finals of the Federation Cup.

The Nigerian hitman is just one of several new recruits...

Prayag United have endured a busy summer in the transfer market. There has been a host of big names coming into the club including star striker, Ranti Martins who was the top scorer in the I-League for the past two seasons. The club have also brought in attacking midfielder Carlos Hernandez, one of the standout players in Australia's A-league during his time at Melbourne FC.

India's number one, Subrata Paul joined from Pune FC after running down his contract and fellow international, Gouramangi Singh signed for the club from Churchill Brothers. Lester Fernandez and Baldeep Singh have also made the switch from Pune FC while Zakeer Mundampara joined the Kolkata club from Churchill Brothers and C.K. Vineeth from Chirag United Kerela.


Speaking about pre-season preparations Sen said, "Yes, we have been preparing for almost two months now. We have played some local league matches also. As far as the combination within the team and other things required goes, we need to work a little bit more but we have another five days before our first game."

"Subrata Pal and Gouramangi Singh have just joined up with us a week ago so we need time for those two boys to form an understanding with each other and the rest of the squad as well. They have played together in international games but playing for our club is different."


Regarding the formation his side is most likely to used, Sen explained, "We normally play a 4-4-2 formation. Sometimes it will depend on the team we are playing or whether we are winning or losing a game, then we may change the strategy but we will mainly play a 4-4-2 formation."

When questioned about the role Hernandez will play in the team, Sen answered, "For the first few games I will use him alongside Ranti Martins in attack but he is not a genuine striker, he is an attacking midfielder. Later I will use him in midfield, he can play as the more attacking of the two midfielders. He can pass the ball well so I want to use that ability of his. For now, he needs to work more on his fitness as he joined our pre-season programme a bit late." View

As their manager suggests, Prayag United are likely to stick to their 4-4-2 formation. New signings, Baldeep Singh, Lester Fernandez and Vineeth will all be featuring in a new-look midfield with Zakeer Mundampara partnering skipper Lalkamal Bhowmick in the middle of the park.

The newly acquired attacking duo of Ranti Martins and Carlos Hernandez will star upfront for the Purple Brigade. In defence, Gouramangi Moirangthem will be drafted straight into the backline to partner Bello Razaq while Chandrashekhar Rao and Deepak Mondal operate in the left and right full-back positions repespectively.

With so much quality drafted into the team, United should be looking to overpower their opponents with their attacking threat. Using the pace and clinical finishing of Martins in tandem with the craft of Hernandez will give them a great chance of exposing defences on a regular basis.

Hernandez could be a revelation for United in attack

Sen points out that many quality players have signed for the club over the summer and it would be difficult to pick out only a few individuals. He insists, " There are so many new players, I cannot name one or two individuals, in the end we are a team and I believe in a collective team effort."

When asked about the younger players to watch out for this season, Sen suggests, “Mohammed Rafique maybe, he scored a good goal in our last match. He will be used up front with Ranti Martins during the course of the season so he has a good chance to progress” View

The combination between Hernandez and Martins promises to be an exciting one. The duo seem to be the ideal pair for Prayag United up front as the two will definitely benefit from each others qualities. Hernandez has amassed a tally of 70 assists from 255 appearances over the course of his club career and could play the role of provider very effectively for the proven goal scoring abilities of Martins. Gouramangi Moirangthem is a great signing in defence and the 2010 AIFF Player of the Year will undoubtedly help organize and solidify the back line to great effect. The addition of goalkeeper Subrata Paul has undoubtedly strengthened Prayag United by leaps and bounds at the back.

Will Prayag United be able to win a strong group and progress?

Prayag United were eliminated in the semi-finals of the Ferderation Cup last year and Sen makes their intentions of bettering that performance this time around very clear.

The United boss said, "Our minimum target should be to reach the final. Last year we lost in the semis, so hopefully this time we can make it to the finals and maybe win the trophy. I cannot say that we are going to win the title but we will try because it is one of the major trophies."

When asked about their opponents in the group, Sen replied, "Yes, with Salgaocar, Pune FC and United Sikkim, we are in the group of death but if we can beat Salgaocar and Pune FC in the group stages, that will be better than if we had to face them in the semi-finals where anything can happen. So in that way it's a good thing." View

As Sen pointed out, Prayag United have been drawn in a tough group with Salgaocar and Pune FC having every chance of progressing to the semi-finals. However, the Kolkata outfit definitely have the quality and strength to beat any opposition they face in the tournament.

With the club making so many signings in the summer, the only question is whether or not the new recruits can gel with each other and the rest of the team in order to forge an understanding to work as a unit and deliver a cup-winning run so early in the season.

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