The target for South United Football Club as they begin their Round I Second Division I-League campaign against Mizoram side Luangmual FC on Monday at the Bangalore Football Stadium is simple – a berth in the top division competition.
But the goal is easily said than done for SUFC, Bangalore’s first professional football club, who will have to find ways to outsmart the challenge of seven other teams in Group C. If the Raman Vijayan-coached side manages to progress from Round I, they will be up against five other teams in the Round II double-leg league where they have to finish again in the top two.
With home advantage and after bolstering the side with new signings this season, SUFC should be seen as one of the favourites to seal their spot in the I-League proper. “We have a good chance of qualifying from this group. We know the conditions well and we have a good team, so I think we can make it to the top division,” said a confident Vijayan.
However, things won’t be that easy for SUFC as Goan side Vasco Sports Club and Mumbai Tigers could pose a big threat to their chances. “It’s important to win as many matches as possible. Mumbai Tigers and Vasco are the teams to watch out for in our group,” pointed out former India striker Vijayan.
To have the job done, SUFC will bank on new recruits Bengal midfielder Abhishek Aich, who joined from Calcutta Port Trust, and Tata Football Academy product, striker Lalawmpuia Pachuau, who was signed from Mumbai FC, to deliver especially in crunch matches.
With a handful of home grown players, especially Vinoth Kumar, Manivannan and Stephen in their fray, SUFC, who had a fantastic run in the BDFA league having finished runners-up in their first season, would fancy their chances of first progressing to Round II.
Another Bangalore side, KGF Academy started their Group A campaign on Saturday with a 1-1 draw with Samaleshwari SC in Singrauli, Madhya Pradesh.
DH News Service
Monday’s matches: Vasco SC vs Southern Samity (1.30 pm); SUFC vs Luangmual FC (4.00 pm).
Group C (at Bangalore): Vasco Sports Club, South United FC, Hindustan FC, Dodsal Sports, Eagles FC, Kalighat Milan Sangha, Luangmual FC, Southern Samity.