I-League: Arrows confident against high-flying Prayag United
KOLKATA: Just eight days after reaching nearest to erasing the I-League history, Prayag United SC will seek to re-invoke the Midas-touch of its new Dutch coach Eelco Schattorie when they take on Pailan Arrows in a sixth round match at Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday (November 18). United SC had scripted the second biggest win in the earlier round by beating United Sikkim FC 10-1 just when Schattorie was making his Indian debut.
While Prayag United sought to obtain motivation from the resounding win, Arrows appeared to convince themselves about the impermanence of its occurrence. “Such wins do not happen every day. It will be a new game where we would like to regain the momentum,” said the Arrows’ Australian coach Arthur Papas. The developmental side of the All India Football Federation has been one of the revelations of the tournament so far, having amassed a record that will put any senior team in the tournament to shame. Arrows had an unbeaten run for 10 matches before losing the first match of the season against Pune FC in the previous round.
“We will definitely look for a win at our home ground. It will motivate the team ahead of a couple of away matches after the sixth round,” Papas said. It has been quite some time that Arrows, who are the only team without a foreigner, have won a match in the tournament.
After back-to-back wins at home in the first two rounds, Arrows played two ‘away’ draws before meeting their match in Pune FC. Papas hoped the team will get back to its rhythm start getting goals, which have been the only thing absent in the team’s performance in the last three rounds (Arrows played successive goalless draws against Salgaocar and United Sikkim before going down 0-2 against Pune FC). The onus now lies on the forwards like Holicharan Narzary and Alwyn Geroge to reinitiate the scoring process.
Assessing the opponent, Papas was wary of the versatility of the United SC’s Costa Rican World Cupper Carlos Hernandes. “Carlos is more dangerous than Ranty (Martins),” said Papas putting the attacking-midfielder ahead in terms of effectiveness than the Nigerian striker, who currently is the leading scorer of the tournament with 11 goals in his kitty.
“My side will aim for full points from the home match,” said Schattorie insisting on an attack-oriented approach against the youthful opponent. “I have not seen Arrows play and have watched some of their games on video. But that won’t be much of a problem if my side sticks to its own plan,” Schattorie said.
The Dutch coach is likely to retain the team that won the previous round with Carlos and Ranty in the offensive role. The United SC midfield – with the likes of Lalkamal Bhowmik, K Asif , CK Vineeth and S Malswamtluanga – have done a fairly good job and Schattorie is expected to retain the same combination.
The United SC defence also is likely to remain unchanged with Nigerian Bello Rasaq and Gourmangi Singh in the centre while Dipak Mondal and Sukhen Dey man the flanks. Subrata Paul in the goal completed the list though United SC complained of niggling injuries to New Zealand striker Kayne Vincent and goalkeeper Sangram Mukherjee, who have mostly remained on the bench.