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Pune FC eye revenge in Maha-Derby
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Pune FC eye revenge in Maha-Derby

India Blooms News Service

Kolhapur, May 14 (IBNS) It is a contest of proving regional superiority. Billed as the 'Maha-Derby,' arch-rivals Pune FC and Mumbai FC face-off in an I-League encounter with their sights trained on a fifth position finish.

Moreover, Pune FC will also hope to exact revenge of the 0-2 loss handed by Mumbai FC at Kolhapur in the first-leg of the League. Incidentally, this season PFC has not lost a game by a two-goal margin and victory can help erase the memory.

A positive verdict for any team will result in a quantum leap with regard to their respective points, but beyond that, this Sunday game at the Balewadi Sports Complex is one of the many in the race to grab the best mid-table position.

To begin with, Pune FC, currently seventh with 29 points, can move into fifth position, provided they win, which will mean displacing and replacing their rivals, who sport 32 points, from the position they currently occupy. This in a way makes the game a cracker of an encounter. Say’s coach Derrick Pereira, “it’s a good opportunity to push up. But towards the end of any league/season it tough on all the players.”

In saying that PFC’s aim was a Top-5 finish, Pereira explained, “Mumbai FC this year has performed well overall. They constantly remained in the top-half of the league and are a good side.”

Both teams go into the game smarting from losses identical 1-2 loss in their previous rounds respectively, and is reason enough for both to hit the ground running and get back to winning ways.

PFC’s loss to JCT in Ludhiana in Round 24, Pereira termed as “set-back,” but in same vein added, “it is the past. We have three matches to go in the league and remain as committed as before. There is no doubting that. It’s just that any result depends on the form players are in on a given day.”

At home, Pune FC has held sway over their rivals and with Mumbai FC going through indifferent form in the past seven game where they managed to pick up just 4 points, PFC will be hoping to squeeze out full points. Mumbai FC, on the other hand, have suffered six losses in away games, drawn one and won four.

“We are one of the best sides – quality-wise - in Maharashtra. It’s just that we need to prove it out in the middle,” opined Pereira.

PFC will miss two of its key players in the line-up tomorrow – central defender Selwyn Fernandes and attacking midfielder Arata Izumi. Both face a one-match suspension due to double booking.

While Caitano Costa is the likely replacement in the defence, Arata’s absence would mean closing between J Prasad, Ajayan Nair or for that matter the young Velito Cruz and that’s because Asim Hassan too has been ruled out for the season with an ankle injury.

Both Pune FC and Mumbai FC have played four times in all levels of I-League competition and Mumbai hold the edge winning two, Pune FC has won one and the lone draw was logged when the teams met way back in 2009 in Pune.

FORM RUN (Last 5 matches)

Pune FC (29 pts; 7th): L-W-W-D-L
Lost JCT 1-2 - Away
Bt HAL 2-1 – Away
Bt East Bengal 2-1 – Home
Drew Indian Arrows 0-0 – Away
Lost Salgaocar SC 0-1 – Home

Mumbai FC (32 pts; 5th): L-W-D-L-L
Lost Indian Arrows 1-2 – Home
Bt Salgaocar SC 3-2 – Away
Drew Chirag United 0-0 – Home
Lost Viva Kerala 0-1 – Away
Lost JCT 0-1 – Away

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