Even if you consider that Indian Super League (ISL) champions Hyderabad FC (HFC) suffered a reverse against Army Red in their final group game in Imphal, it will be a huge ask for I-League side Rajasthan United FC (RUFC) to put it across them in the fourth and final quarter-final game of the 131st Durand Cup, scheduled to be played here at the Kishore Bharati Krirangan (KBK) on Monday. The match kicks-off at 6.00 pm Indian Standard Time (IST).
Coach Manolo Marquez was not reading too much into that loss however, when he said at the pre-match press conference, “We understand that now we are champions and every team will play hard with us. The Army Red team also played like they were playing the world cup final and they played well. We played against all first-teams in Imphal unlike the other groups and played well. It was a very good experience in Imphal to see that football is more important than cricket.”
Hyderabad won their first three games in Group C against local sides TRAU FC and Neroca FC as well as fellow ISL side Chennaiyin FC very comfortably, to qualify as group toppers before being off-color with their finishing in the final Army Red game. They have a solid defense with players like Sana Singh and Akash Mishra also doubling up as attacking wing-backs and in Bartholomew Ogbeche, they have a game-killer.
RUFC on the other hand have shown that they are organized and can play to a plan. They sure can be overwhelmed by a quality side as against Mumbai City FC, but can surprise any side on their off-day, as they did to ATK Mohun Bagan, all in the group stages. In their win against the Indian Navy in the final group game, they have shown that they are mentally strong for big games and know how to put it across in those games. Facts which were also acknowledged by Marquez in the pre-match presser.
They also have players who are growing in stature with every game. Names like Melroy Assisi and Gyanmar Nikum have caught the eye and foreigners like Martin Chavez and Sergio Barboza are also making themselves count spectacularly at times.
Coach Pushpender Kundu was oozing confidence in the presser ahead of the club’s biggest game ever saying, “We will give it a good shot tomorrow. We have done our studies on the Hyderabad players and will try and execute our plans accordingly.”
It will be a huge ask, but one feels sure that Rajasthan will give the ISL champions a run for their money.
Source: Indian Army
Report- Pratyusha Mukherjee