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Prelude to an epic I-League battle

sports Updated: Dec 01, 2010 01:39 IST
Tomojit Basu
Tomojit Basu
Hindustan Times
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Slotting the Super Cup where it is threatens to lower the billing of a contest usually reserved as a season opener or ender. However, it should still provide enough food for thought to Dempo and East Bengal.

Defending I-League champions Dempo are rusty after a long lay-off. And without their core group of India national players, the Super Cup tie will prove to be an interesting prelude to Dempo's fight to stay at the top once the I-League starts on Friday.

Pitted against them are Federation champions East Bengal who have recently steamrolled Mohun Bagan 2-0 on way to winning the Calcutta Football League. Wednesday, thus, could be expected to be electric though the result will amount to little beyond bragging rights.

Furthermore, that it isn't the Ambedkar Stadium, which will host the event, because of the ongoing Subroto Mukherjee Cup, also dents the credibility of the event.

East Bengal coach Trevor James Morgan was not pleased with the training facilities at the Gurgaon's Tau Devi Lal Stadium. "Considering there's a cricket pitch, the conditions were dismal. We weren't even allowed to use the field and had to use the fringes."

"We aren't taking this (Super Cup) very seriously because as reigning I-League champions, it's more important we concentrate on that," said Dempo coach Armando Colaco.

Both sides have multiple injury worries. "One of the reasons I'm not going to field a full strength team tomorrow is because there are far too many injuries and I can't risk any more," said Colaco, who didn't reveal any names.

Morgan confirmed midfielders Reisangmei Vashum and Harmanjot Singh Khabra will be out in addition to defenders Naoba Singh and Uga Okpara. Much touted Australian striker Tolgay Ozbey could also be rested.

"We were ninth last year while Dempo have won the league twice in the last three seasons. From what I saw at the Federation Cup, they're a talented bunch and I want to see how far we've managed to come," said Morgan who will be facing Dempo for the first time this season.