HASC eye elusive victory

Forward Prakash, keeper Pramod in doubt for Prayag United clash

The Aircraftmen played their best game of the season against Churchill on Sunday, but still ended up on the losing side after they failed to find the the back of the net yet again.

A similar performance, but with goals, will be essential if HASC are to ensure the home crowd, who have thronged the Bangalore Football stadium in the thousands, leave happy.

That task, however, has been made a little more difficult with first-choice goalkeeper P Pramod and veteran forward RC Prakash, who sparkled against Churchill in a withdrawn role behind striker A Hamza, doubtful after the duo suffered knee and ankle injuries respectively.

“It will be a huge loss for us if Pramod and RC can’t play,” HASC manager M Muralidharan said during his team’s training session on Saturday morning. “The fact that we are playing our second match in four days has made it a little diffcult for us. Because if we had a weeks’ rest, I’m sure we could have had everyone fit and that would have improved our chances drastically.

“But we are confident after our performance in the last game and hopefully we can pick up some points,” he added.

Amar Deb will come in for Pramod while Prakash is expected to be replaced by defender Lilliyan Kennath, making the already goal-shy Bangalore team a little too defensive minded. “We want to be compact in defence because Prayag have big attackers and Kennath’s presence will help our back-four massively,” Muralidharan reasoned.

The rest of the team will be the same with the back-line of Chandandeep Singh, Joseph Femi, Biju Kumar and Bijoy Das looking to continue their good form while the goalscoring duties will again fall upon Hamza — the scorer of HASC’s only goal this year — Malemngamba Meitei and Vinoth Kumar.

Prayag scored their first win of the new season with a crushing 5-1 verdict over Pune FC in the last round and now have six points from four matches, five more than their opponents on Thursday.

The Kolkata team will be without Nigerian striker Yusif Yakubu, but have enough firepower to threaten the home team with the likes of Brazilian Josimar da Silva Martins and New Zealander Kayne Vincent featuring in their ranks. The central midfield partnership of Denson Devadas and captain Lalkamal Bhowmick has clicked brilliantly and the duo will hold the key to unlocking the stubborn HASC defence, which has conceded just four goals in four matches.

“We will take a cautious approach in the first 20 minutes or so and then take the match from there,” Sanjoy Sen, the Prayag coach, said. “But we definitely want to win tomorrow, because we want to be among the contenders this season, and that will only be possible if we can take maximum points against sides like HASC,” Sen added.

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