Calcutta: Having lost five of their last six matches, there’s some relief for Prayag United Sports Club as they finally have a full-strength squad at their disposal in the I-League Round XIV tie against table-toppers Dempo SC, on Friday, in Kalyani.
Missing key players like Carlos Hernandez, Bello Rasaq and Kayne Vincent proved more than costly for the big-budget team, who find themselves pushed back to sixth in the league table despite getting off to an impressive start.
To go by the first-hand view, United SC’s chances against Dempo appear minimal, considering how they fared against a lowly ranked team in Sporting Clube de Goa a week ago. However, the return of the Costa Rican Hernandez and Rasaq may help United SC breathe a little easier and try to put some pressure back onto their high-flying opponents.
Moreover, Hernandez’s presence may take some load off the shoulders of Ranty Martins, who is pulling his side single-handedly. Ranty, for his part, had been the sole bright spot for United SC when they took on Dempo in the first leg.
On this occasion, the Nigerian would certainly hope that his strikes don’t go in vain and instead, earn United SC a much-needed victory.
United SC coach Eelco Schattorie may bring in Sangram Mukherjee in place of a faltering Subrata Paul under the bar.
On the other hand, Dempo don’t want to read too much into United SC’s recent string of poor shows. “We’re not really concerned about their form,” said coach Armando Colaco, on Thursday.
“We don’t feel we’re in an advantageous position since they haven’t performed well enough lately. It’s an away game for us, which we need to keep in mind. So we too have a task on hand,” he added.
The visitors, too, have their share of concerns as they miss key performers in Ryuiji Sueoka, Peter Carvalho, Creson Antao and Anthony Pereira.
Meanwhile, Dempo have roped in Liberian midfielder Johnny Menyongar to complete their foreign quota for the rest of the season.
He has been signed on loan from Lajong FC and is likely to play a part on Friday.
Johnny, who has been training with the team for the past six weeks, will replace former Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur player Rohan Ricketts who fell apart with Colaco for tweeting against him.