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Pune, Dec 1 (IBNS) Positive Pune FC shall be out to improve their position in the league table against Mohun Bagan AC in an I-League 2012-13 Round 9 meeting, on Sunday.
The hosts, in fact, will be hoping to en-cash the drop in their opponents form and work towards getting back to winning ways at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mhalunge-Balewadi.
Having broken a two-match disappointment at home with a win over Sporting Cube Goa in Goa, Pune FC’s objective will be to extend the winning run and make it two-in-a-row.
Interestingly, Pune FC will also expect to take inspiration from the victory they logged against the Kolkata team last season when they rallied to win 2-1. The win is the only win Pune FC has in seven meetings.
New Coach Karim Benchirifa’s Bagan, meanwhile, go into the game on the end of two disappointing performances – the first, a draw with Mumbai FC in Pune before Dempo SC spanked them 0-3 in Goa.
Moreover, with the much touted Kolkata Derby against East Bengal coming up, the pressure on the squad is clearly mounting having picked up a point from the two matches.
Incidentally, the first time Pune FC faced Bagan in Pune (2009-10), Karim was in-charge and managed a 3-1 win thanks to a Chidi Edeh hat-trick, which in a way is also a score to settle for Coach Derrick Pereira.
Pune FC Coach explains, “I do not want to comment on their team. But then again every team has their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Neutralizing the strengths by putting pressure on weaknesses should win the game.”
While Bagan’s over dependence on striker Odafa Okoli will be a job on hand, injuries have been concerning their Coach ever since taking over a week back.
For the record, Odafa, Okolie who has scored six out of their eight goals this season and also managed to net against Pune FC in both games last season.
Strikers Tolgay Ozbey, Anil Kumar, medio Manish Maithani, defender Khelemba Singh and goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya are all set to miss out due to injuries. Defenders Syed Nabi and Eche Anyichie are carrying knocks but may appear.
Pune FC, however, cannot take their opponents lightly. Despite the handicaps, Bagan has a strong force which includes India defender Nirmal Chhetri, ex-Lajong captain Aibor Khongjee, ex-India defender Mehrajuddin Wadoo.
The midfield also boasts of a strong line up. Current India medio Jewel Raja, experienced playmaker Denson Devadas, winger Snehasis Chakraborty adds rush to the side.
Bagan will miss the services of Biswajit Saha, who serves a one-match suspension after his sending off against Dempo SC in midweek.
“Playing Mohun Bagan for any player is a motivation for the players, which should automatically urge them once out on the field,” explained Derrick.
“I have told the players to play as per plan and also urged then to enjoy the gift God has given them and put their best foot forward,” added the coach.
Comparatively, Pune FC has a fully fit squad for this late evening kick-off. A clear indication of this fact is the success achieved in Goa with five changes to the playing eleven.
Coach adds, “I thank God for giving me a side that can match any side in the league and also pull themselves back in crunch situations.”
“I will like to keep the winning combination, unless unforeseen circumstances arise.”
“I have full faith and am confident of my team.”
Interestingly, apart from two goalless games, Bagan have opened scoring in all matches against Pune FC, something that will also need to checked.