Injury-ridden East Bengal to face stiff challenge from Prayag

Kolkata: Injury-ridden East Bengal will have to overcome stiff challenge from resurgent Prayag United SC when the two local teams lock horns in what promises to be a thrilling second semifinal contest of the 33rd Federation Cup.

Aiming for a hat-trick of titles to match the feat of Mohun Bagan, seven-time champions East Bengal have full of problems going into their last four match at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan.

Mehtab Hussain, a vital cog in East Bengal`s wheel, is down with a groin injury making the playmaker`s availability in the match uncertain.

To make matters worse, a suspended Robin Singh will have to sit out, while Australian Tolgay Ozbey, Harmanjot Khabra and Raju Gaikwad are suffering from slight niggles.

Mehtab, Robin and Tolgay have been the three most important players in coach Trevor James Morgan`s scheme of things as it was seen in their successful last season.

With one not there and others carrying injuries, the team`s balance in the attack will definitely be affected and it remains to be seen how Morgan deals with the situation.

The Englishman will also have some thinking to as far as his backline is concerned with Gaikwad and Khabra too carrying some niggles.

East Bengal had been lucky en route to their semifinal qualification. Dubious refereeing decisions that saw a goal from off-side position and a penalty ruled out in favour of Dempo helped East Bengal make the semifinals, which was even conceded by Morgan.

But it`s going to be a different day and a different stage tomorrow and Morgan knows that fully.


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