Some say that they are the Real Madrid of Indian football while some don’t think so. Some call them the Manchester City of Indian football. Some fans think that they have a good, strong side like Real Madrid. Others think that as in spite of making good investments and a good team, they have not played up to their mark, just like Manchester City in this season so far. From the very beginning of this season, this dual notion among the fans is quite noticeable.
After their name changed from ‘Chirag United’ to ‘Prayag United’, this is their first season under the new name. Still, 6 more games are in hand for the Purple Brigade. After playing 20 games in this I-League season so far, they have managed to gather 31 points and are in the 5th position in the league table. Yes, we cannot say that they have performed up to their mark in this season so far, but what we can say is that Prayag United need to keep faith in themselves and also have a little bit of patience.
Prayag United need to learn something from their neighbours, East Bengal, who are very much in the title race and arguably one of the favourites to clinch this title. East Bengal has kept almost their same team and coach since last three years, which is the biggest reason behind their success in recent years. As this brought an understanding among the players, it helped the team in achieving long-term goals. Dempo is an another prime example of keeping the same players and coach, which helped them in clinching last season’s title and the team has the record of wining Goa league 11 times. If Prayag United can hold this team for two-three seasons more, then it’ll be much easier for the players to create a good understanding among them.
Apart from this, Prayag United should allow more opportunities to their young guns like C.K. Vineeth, Shankar Oraon, Asif Kottayil, Gourango Biswas and others. Under the supervision of Dutch coach Eelco Schattorie, the young Prayag boys are playing quite brilliantly. The superiority of four foreigners, Ranti Martins, Bello Rasaq, Kayne Vincent and Carlos Hernandez has added extra sharpness in the team line up. As a result, they are playing a key role in the growth of young players. But there is something which the Prayag coach and the team management should be cautious of – the lack of strength of reserve bench. Prayag’s reserve bench strength is not so strong compared to other big teams like East Bengal, Dempo and Churchill Brothers.
Maybe at the start of the season, fans expected Prayag United to surprise the big guns of Indian football and proving themselves as one of the favourites to win this season’s title. Yes, they have surprised some of the big clubs including Salgaocar and Dempo. But they have also lost, or I should rather say, gifted some points to some small clubs including Sporting Clube de Goa, ONGC and Shillong-Lajong. As a result, despite of making a good start to the season, they have slowly slipped away from the title race. Now, forgetting all the disappointments and taking lessons from all the wrong things they have done in this season, they need a fresh start in the next season and who knows, they may emerge as the champions of I-League season 2013-14.Published 19 Feb 2013, 01:02 IST