HASC keen to shrugg off woes

HASC keen to shrugg off woes

Struggling Bangalore team faces Salgaocar

The defending champions are struggling to find anything like the form that took them to the title last season, and Hindustan Aeronautics Sports Club will be deseperate to exploit that when they host the Goans in the I-League on Sunday.

The problem, however, is HASC are on the worst run possible, making Salgaocar’s form look pure gold. The Aircraftmen are quickly becoming the whipping boys of this season’s I-League, having picked up just a single point in nine matches so far, seven of which have been played at home.

Unless they quickly turn their season around in their eighth home match at the Bangalore Football stadium, relegation will be a reality well before the 26th and final match of the season in May.

HASC’s woes this season have come down to one thing - strategy. The team management of manager M Muralidharan and coach R Thyagarajan have adopted strange formations time and again, playing defenders in midfield and adopting defensive strategies when attacking would have been the much better option.

The Bangalore side has looked at its best while playing possession football, the kind that blew Mohun Bagan away in the first half of their previous match, but looked awful when playing with a defensive mindset, the reason for much of their capitulation in the second half of games.

“We are going for the same formation we adopted against Bagan tomorrow. (Joseph) Femi is a big doubt and we will take a call on him tomorrow morning,” Muralidharan said.

The Nigerian defender picked up a knee injury in the match against Bagan and has not trained since. Biju Kumar, who himself is returning from injury, will replace Femi if the captain cannot take the field.

RC Prakash, who was easily HASC’s best player on the pitch last Wednesday, will again pull the strings in midfield while A Hamza, who seems to have found his goal-scoring touch, will be keen to add to his four-goal tally.

Salgaocar, with the astute Karim Bencherifa in charge, will look at this match as the perfect opportunity to kick-start their season. Scoring goals has been the Goan club’s problem, having netted just eleven in nine matches so far.

Bencherifa, who has taken complete responsibility for his team’s poor run, however said luck, or the lack of it, had also played a part. “We have just not been able to get into the groove this season. I’m not sure what the reason is exactly, but it is my responsibility to find out what it is and find a solution quickly,” the Moroccan said during his side’s practice session at the Football stadium on Saturday morning.
“But we have been a touch unlucky. We have hit the woodwork five times and the referees have not been consistent enough,” he added.

Salgaocar will rely on foreign recruits Edeh Chidi and Ryuji Sueoka for goals while Tomba Singh and Rocus Lamare will be the creative forces in midfield.

“We need points and the home side need points, so it is going to be interesting tomorrow,” the enterprising Bencherifa said with a smile.

Other matches: At Margao: Dempo vs Air India; At Pune: Mumbai FC vs Pune FC; At Kolkata: Pailan Arrows vs East Bengal.

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