Pune FC to strengthen position on top
Pune FC has their eye set on maintaining their position on the league table. But for that a fired up Prayag United Sports Club is the task in hand in Round-15 of the I-League.
While the relatively new venue at Kalyani (Kolkata) will be all about facing huge home team support, Prayag United SC themselves go into the game after a morale boosting win over Dempo SC.
In fact, between both teams the Kolkata side played twice at the venue and ended with contrasting results something Pune FC will hope to exploit on Wednesday.
Pune FC on their part is on a 9 match unbeaten run and will be hoping to round off their northeast and Kolkata mission without any hiccup.
Coach Derrick Pereira said, "Yes we've had a good run going into this match and we will try our best once again."
"They (PUSC) are definitely a good side on paper despite the run they have had. The last that they played, they dominated and won the match late."
Prayag United SC over the past 2 games have overhauled their line-up to get back on track.
The 1-3 loss to Sporting Clube Goa led to Coach Eelco Schattorie making changes aplenty.
Goalkeeper Subrata Paul made way for Kalyani-lad Sangram Mukherjee. In defence, Nigerian Bello Rasaq returned from his 2-game suspension, while Costa Rican playmaker Carlos Hernandez was back in the Dempo SC game.
Furthermore, the home side added options on the bench in Japanese-New Zealander Kayne Vincent, who was out for long spell out with injury.
MP Sakeer also returned from suspension and so did ex-Pune FC attacking midfielder Lester Fernandez.
With options aplenty, PUSC has a virtually full-strength squad at their disposal.
Pune FC's main job on the morrow will be keeping I-League top-scorer for the past 2 seasons Ranti Martins in check. Ranti currently leads the current season with 15 goals.
"Defensively we need to be compact. We will need to play well like we have done so far," adds the Pune FC Coach. The
Pune FC defenders can in fact take heart from their performance which kept him at bay in the home-leg (Round 12) in December 2012.
The striker has scored half his team's goals and along with Vineeth (3), Carlos (3), Bello (2), Oraon, Lalkamal, Rafique, Asif, Manswama and Kayne has managed to help his team score in in every I-League game this season.
Pune FC Coach adds, "We have to take them on with respect. On paper they are good, though their run has not been the best."
While PUSC look to close in the gap in the table (they were 2nd after Round 6) before slipping with six losses in 8 games, Pune FC is well aware of their opponents capabilities.
Pune FC will miss the services of striker striker Jeje Lalpekhlua, who got himself injured in the game against Shillong Lajong FC and against United Sikkim FC could not continue when he came on as a substitute.
The coach said, "Jeje (Lalpekhlua) is out for this game due to injury which needs time and rest. He will be back for the next game."
In fact, defender Zohminliana Ralte along with Jeje are the changes in the 18, with Caitano Costa and experienced Shanmugam Venkatesh drafted in the 18 for the game tomorrow.
Jeje's setback apart Pune FC are no short of confidence having done well in the past. The game will be the third this season between both with Pune FC winning one and drawing once, while overall it is the 14th all-time meeting.
For Pune FC Coach the message is simple to his squad, "Results come, only if you perform well. We've played match by match and improved in each and every match."
Interestingly, the venue had a Pune FC high logged in the past. Last season, the Pune FC Under-19 squad lifted the Under-20 I-League title.
FORM RUN (Last 5 matches)
Pune FC (2nd, 28 points): W-W-W-W-W
Prayag United SC (6th, 17 points): W-L-L-W-L
PFC 'Away' Form: W-W-W-W-W-W-L
USFC 'Home' Form: W-L-L-L-D-W-W
HEAD 2 HEAD (all Matches)
22/12/12 IL Pune FC 3-1 Prayag Utd SC at Pune
22/09/12 FEC Prayag Utd SC 1-1 Pune FC at Jamshedpur
12/02/12 IL Pune FC 2-1 Prayag Utd SC at Pune
15/11/11 IL Prayag Utd SC 5-1 Pune FC at Kolkata
21/10/11 DC Prayag Utd SC 2-0 Pune FC at New Delhi
16/03/11 IFS Prayag Utd SC 0-1 Pune FC at Kolkata
08/03/11 IL Prayag Utd SC 1-0 Pune FC at Kolkata
18/12/10 IL Pune FC 1-1 Prayag Utd SC at Pune
31/10/10 DC Pune FC 0-0 Prayag Utd SC at New Delhi
09/04/10 IL Prayag Utd SC 1-1 Pune FC at Kolkata
28/01/10 IL Pune FC 2-1 Prayag Utd SC at Pune
20/04/08 I2D Prayag Utd SC 4-2 Pune FC at Guwahati
09/04/08 I2D Prayag Utd SC 2-0 Pune FC at Pune