TRAU and Hindustan battle it out as Ozone and Real Kashmir lock horns
Written by: AIFF-The All India Football Federation
The four teams will compete in the final round of I-League 2nd Division with promotion to the top flight at stake for the winner.
TRAU FC coach L. Nandakumar Singh aims to harness the momentum that propelled his side into the Hero 2nd Division League final round when they take on Hindustan FC in the opener on May 24, 2018 at the FSV Arena in Bengaluru. The match will be kick-off at 1:30 pm.
The clash, even at this early stage, is liable to represent a crucial fixture in the title aspirations of both teams. A defeat on an opening day would leave either side facing a mountainous climb. However, on the other side of the coin, victory would help them to build momentum in a competition that offers little scope to make mistakes.
While TRAU surprised many by reaching the final round making their maiden Hero 2nd Division League appearance. Hindustan FC, who finished at bottom of their qualification group last season, showed a miraculous turn around to earn the qualification as the best second-placed team.
TRAU could seem favourite to win this game taking into account the readiness of the players for this game on both the mental and physical side. However, their opponents will not be that easy to beat. The physical strength of Hindustan FC players, as well as the quick counter attacks they have, could be a dangerous weapon in the game.
TRAU FC players training before the inception of the final round
However, should TRAU fully realize their offensive potential, as they did in momentously downing a strong Mohammedan Sporting Club side twice during the qualifying round, then it is difficult to see Hindustan FC handling TRAU’s vast array of attacking riches.
Princewill Olariche Emeka represents the jewel in TRAU’s glittering attacking crown. If the Nigerian forward recreates the sparkling form he showcased throughout the qualifying round, Hindustan FC’s defenders could endure the most torrid of evenings.
Hindustan FC, on the other hand, typically take a very conservative approach to their matches. They prefer to sit deep, stay organized, hit on the counter when they can and take their chances in a low-scoring affair.
Coach Vikrant Sharma’s study of his opponents is comprehensive; his ability to shift tactics during games makes Hindustan FC a tough team to figure out.
There might not be many recognizable names in the Hindustan FC squad, but one player who will be leading the way is former Minerva Punjab winger Nitesh Chhikara. The versatile footballer has helped Hindustan FC to finish unbeaten in qualifying round, so there should be plenty of confidence and some experience within him and the rest of the group heading into the final round.
Ozone FC and Real Kashmir FC will aim to start their Hero 2ND Division League final round campaign on the right foot when they square off at the FSV Arena in Bengaluru on May 24, 2018. The match will kick-off at 5:45 pm.
Following a gruelling qualifying round four teams have made it to the final round and at the end of a single round-robin competition, the top team will earn promotion in the next edition of Hero I-League.
While Ozone FC qualified for the final round on top of their qualifying group after an impressive run that saw them beating strong teams like FC Kerala and Fateh Hyderabad. Real Kashmir defied the odds to topple a tricky group that included Hindustan FC, Delhi United and Lonestar Kashmir FC.
It’s no secret that physical play against Real Kashmir will be crucial for Ozone FC. While Ozone FC have a reputation for free-flowing and attacking football, they are equally known for their physical play.
Ozone FC have shown just how explosive they could be with 19 goals during a nine-game unbeaten streak in qualifying round before falling to Kerala Blasters reserves 1-0 in their final qualifying round game.
Ozone FC coach David Booth has underlined the importance of a winning start insisting that a win on day one will put the team in commanding position for rest of the campaign.
The Ozone roster is loaded with experience, boasting a blend of players such as Gunashekhar Vignesh, Sabeeth Sathyan, Chinta Chandrashekhar Rao, NS Manju, Clyde Fernandes, Sampath Kuttymani and Chika Wali with valuable Hero I-League experience.
However, all eyes will on the Brazilian goal-scoring machine Robert De Souza, who will lead the dream of Ozone FC in the final round. The 26-year-old has been in great form in the qualifying round and leading the goal-scoring chart with 8 goals.
These many dangerous and creative players mean the Real Kashmir back-line needs to maintain it’s shaping throughout the 90 minutes, and coach David Robertson feels everyone must stay focused on the task at hand. He noted Ozone FC thrives on give-and-go opportunities with short, quick passes to draw out and get behind opposing defenders.
His experience should provide a valuable asset, along with the speed and physicality of youngsters Atinder Mani and Ifham Tariq Mir. They may have some nerves on such a big stage, but Robertson thinks that’s to be expected for everyone and it’s important for them to soak up the pressure.
The game looks balanced although with Ozone FC slightly with a slight advantage due to pedigree but Real Kashmir have a few quality players that can hurt any opponents on a given day.
Published: Wed May 23, 2018 02:34 PM IST