I-League: Pune FC eager for a win
Pune FC face the task of working themselves back into winning rhythm when they come up against United Sikkim FC in a Round-7 I-League 2012-13 encounter at the Shiv Chhatrapathi Sports Complex, Mhalunge-Balewadi Saturday.
While the unexpected postponement of the previous round (v/s Air-India) held back the host's hopes of getting back into winning ways at home, the match on hand is a double-headed challenge for Coach Derrick Pereira.
"We've utalised the break preparing ourselves in earnest and the hope is to consolidate our position," explains the coach. Pune FC, having played one round short, has 9 points and rank sixth on the table.
"Break-period does affect rhythm and the momentum. However, the players' attitude has been on a high. They have been fighting in practice and as eager as always."
The visitors go into the match as the most out-of-form team and remain the only team to have won none of the last 5 games. USFC overall have six points after beginning with win over Salgaocar at home.
Adding up to USFC's tough times are stats that reveal; most goals conceded (17 precisely) apart from scoring the second-least goals (6) among all teams.
Pune FC Coach, opined, "USFC are a young side most of them are new faces, barring a few known players in Anwar, Bhaichung (Bhutia). Also their foreigners are new to the league."
Focusing on job, he adds, "What we need to do is get on with match on hand."
Having already checked-in on Monday, USFC are on a 4-away-match run with Pune being a stop-over for two games including against the hosts. So far, USFC have lost two on the run (v/s Prayag United SC and Sporting Clube Goa) and will be keen to end the winless run.
Thus, for hosts Pune FC the chances of USFC being a determined lot cannot be ruled out and thus complacency will need to be avoided.
Coach Pereira adds, "The players body language has been positive. They know what is expected and look to continue from where they left off against Arrows."
Pune FC has a fit side to choose their eleven from. Coach says, "We've got a fit side and will carry on with the same team that played Arrows." However, in saying so defender Caitano Costa returns to the side after serving a one match suspension. Costa comes in place of Zohmingliana Ralte.
The visitors, meanwhile, will rely on a couple of their in-form playes that include centre-back Sandesh Jhingan, the joint-top-scoring defender in the league right now with 2 goals apart from their Nigerian striker Nurudeen Salau. Both have 2 goals to their name.
USFC's foreign players include defensive midfielder Michael Rodrigues, who was part or the 2006 Costa Rican World Cup squad in Germany, South Korean goalkeeper Yoon Tae and Togolese midfielder Daniel Attivi.
Interestingly, both teams square off for the second time ever. Earlier in the Fed Cup, the hosts played the visitors san their foreign players and won.
With the win at the back of Pune FC's mind, the hope is to get on and en cash the odds stacked against USFC.
Says Coach Pereira, "More than what their team is all about I would my boys to improve upon their performance. They have the capabilities and need to push hard and do better than the past games."
"I feel so far we've done well to reduce mistakes. And have done so considerably as the league has progressed."
For owner-coach-cum-player Bhaichung Bhutia the encounter on the morrow will be his second after the historic opener the hosts played against East Bengal in 2009-2010. Likewise, Pune FC midfielder Mumtaz Akhtar will be up against his ex-club.
Form Run (Last 5 matches)
Pune FC (6th, 9 points): W-L-L-W-W
United Sikkim FC (13th, 4 points): L-L-D-L-L
20/09/12 IL Pune FC 1-0 USFC at Jamshedpur