Contrary to what many would like to believe, Shillong Lajong FC coach Pradhyum Reddy is relishing the prospect of a clash against table-toppers Dempo Sports Club at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda on Wednesday.
Lajong haven't really set the league on fire. They have struggled against comparatively weaker teams, but against Dempo -- who have won all of their six matches -- Reddy believes his side will be far more competent.
"There are several advantages of playing a team like Dempo. First and foremost, we get to play on a beautiful surface at Dempo which is conducive for attractive football. In Imphal (in the last match), we struggled on a bumpy field.
"Playing against Dempo would also mean that they would play open football. They would come and attack you, so there would be an open field. Comparatively weaker sides, with an eye on a point, play so defensively that it becomes difficult to break them down," said the coach whose team have two win of their last six matches and have eight points in their kitty.
Despite winning all of their six matches so far, and that too convincingly, Dempo Sports Club coach Armando Colaco is wary of Shillong Lajong.
"You need to be careful of teams like Lajong. They will play against without any pressure and, unlike us, will have nothing to lose. We need to be guarded," said Colaco.
Colaco will field an unchanged squad from the one that demolished Pune FC which means Nigerian strikers Ranty Martins and Koko Sakibo would start upfront relegating India striker Joaquim Abranches to the bench.
Colaco feels his team would get better as the league progresses. According to him, the form and fitness would improve and then there is the small matter of completing the transfer of Trinidad & Tobago midfielder Densil Theobad when the international transfer window opens in January.
Prayag challenge for Mohun Bagan
Mohun Bagan play their first match since the derby victory when Prayag United host them in Kolkata on Wednesday. Prayag is the only unbeaten team from Kolkata so far and will look to create an upset.
For Mohun Bagan, Jose Barreto and Jewel Raja are both suspended for the match after picking up double bookings from previous matches, while Prayag United will miss the services of Arnab Mondal and Denson Devadas for the same reason.
Mohun Bagan will also be without Anwar Ali and Rakesh Masiah who are both injured. Anwar is yet to recover while Rakesh was injured in the derby match on Sunday
Prayag United's Lalkamal Bhowmick also suffered a scare when he hurt his waist after a fall at the ground. Prayag United head coach Sanjoy Sen when asked about the extent of injury said "Lalkamal Bhowmick has a slight injury but it is not too serious so I think he can play".
Mohun Bagan players seemed relaxed and confident at practice after their derby victory. Prasanta Banerjee said: "We have warned all the players not to be over confident. After winning a derby players seem to relax but that is all past now we need to think about tomorrows match".
Prayag United's Sanjoy Sen said "last year also we have done well against Mohun Bagan. They are a good team but there is nothing for us to worry about. We will play our natural game and hope to do our best. As of now we are the only unbeaten team from Kolkata in this edition of the I-League. We will go out there to get the full 3 points and play our normal attacking game".
When asked what he thought about Odafa, Sanjoy Sen said "He is a great player but we will not try to man mark him but rather stick to our normal zonal marking".
East Bengal vs HAL Bangalore
It's a tough job -- giving 100% against your arch-rivals, closely losing out on a high-intense battle, and then travel to another city to play the next round. Wonder what must be going in the minds of East Bengal who will face HAL in Bangalore on November 23rd.
East Bengal head coach Trevor Morgan would be much relieved man as Aussie striker Tolgay Ozbey will be back in the team after serving a double-booking suspension against Mohun Bagan.
Nothing seems to be going well for the hosts -- lying at the bottom of the points table. Their primary concern is their inability to score. They did score two quick goals in the last match, but conceded three goals in late second half.
Meanwhile, in an another match Mumbai FC will host Sporting Clube de Goa in Pune.