I-L: Pune FC seek revival of fortunes
Pune, Feb 1 : Pune FC seeks a change in their home script when they take on Salgaocar FC in a Round-19 I-League game on Saturday.
Having earned just one point from two games in 2013, the worrying issues are not just points, but scoring goals.
Coach Derrick Pereira, after a pre-match session, explained, "We have to improve and concentrate on our finishing. Chances have been created by the many, but conversion has fallen short."
On the opponents, he adds, "We need to get a good result at home and there is no two ways about it." To make matters challenging, the Goans come to the city on the back of a loss - similar to the two early seasons and will be determined to push themselves away from the wrong end of the table.
Currently Salgaocar FC is 12th, eight places adrift the hosts.
Pune FC, carry the advantage of winning the first-leg (0-2) in Goa and hope to continue their stranglehold. Adding up in Pune FC's favour is the fact that Salgaocar FC is the lowest scorers in the league per game (only Bagan, who've played 4 games fewer, have scored lesser goals).
Pune FC Coach says, ""Salgaocar is a good teram. We cannot take them lightly going by the (league) standings. We need to stay focused and get on with our job on hand."
Interestingly, their top-scorer this season is centre-back Augustin Fernandes (3) and attacker Milagres Gonsalves.
The game should thus depend on who can break free from the shackles of scoring.
"The boys are hungry to win and want to get back and want to forget the way we played in the second-half of the match against East Bengal," explains Pune FC Coach.
The visitors, since the last meeting has completely revamped their foreign attacking trio. Nigerian striker Gabriel Obatola, Brazilian striker Josimar Martins, and Singaporean playmaker John Wilkinson having replaced Sean Rooney, Angel Guirado and Quinton Jacobs respectively.
In fact, Obatola and Josimar have also already managed to get on the score-sheet once apiece in the 2 matches they've featured in along with Wilkinson, and thus the Pune FC defence have a fresh challenge to deal with.
"They are good attacking players," observed Pune FC Coach. Joshimar is experienced and has played in India for several years. The others are new and look good. I've seen them play on artificial turf, but in Pune it's a natural pitch and need to see how they do."
The rest of the squad is familiar. Captain Luciano Sabrosa is set to lead the defence after being out for a while with injury. Regular left-back Fulgancion Cardozo is back from suspension, to help out the established Augustin Fernandes and right-wing-back Nicolau Colaco.
Add India internationals Karanjit Singh's presence in goal and Francis on the flanks, along with long-serving regulars in playmaker Rocus Lamare and winger Gilbert Oliveira the squad is competitive.
Salgaocar will however be without defender Ranul Kumar who received a red-card in the last game.
Pune FC is expected to make changes to find the right combination. To begin with, midfielder Khanthang Paite returns to the squad and so do Nikhil Kadam and Vellington Rocha. "Paite remains a first choice. In the last match he served a loan agreement clause and had to sit out," explains Coach. He added, "The youngsters (Nikhil and Vellington) need encouragement and a chance to prove themselves."
Both teams will be meeting for the third time this season and shared a win each. In fact, it was Paite's brace that earned Pune FC's win at Fatorda.
Overall Pune FC holds the advantage of winning five games against the Goans in 8 meetings of top flight meetings. Two losses and a draw remain the only spots on what otherwise has been a dominant run.
With a better head to head to boast, Pune FC hopes to bounce back and to regain momentum in their chase of the Top-3 teams.
"We've got to work hard and not give up," says Pune FC Coach
Interestingly, it was the win against Salgaocar in Goa that led to 5-match winning streak. A similar result and fate from now on will be something Pune FC will have their eye on.
FORM RUN (Last 5 Matches)
Pune FC (4th, 30 points): L-D-L-W-W
Salgaocar FC (12th, 14 points): L-W-L-D-L
SFC 'Away' Form: L-L-D-L-D-L-L-W-D-L
PFC 'Home' Form: L-D-W-D-D-L-W-W
9/12/12 IL Salgaocar FC 0-2 Pune FC at Goa
24/09/12 FEC Pune FC 1-2 Salgaocar FC at Jamshedpur
18/04/12 I-L Pune FC 2-0 Salgaocar FC at Pune
15/12/11 I-L Salgaocar FC 1-3 Pune FC at Goa
03/04/11 I-L Pune FC 0-1 Salgaocar FC at Pune
29/12/10 I-L Salgaocar FC 0-1 Pune FC at Goa
17/04/10 I-L Pune FC 1-1 Salgaocar FC at Pune
17/01/10 I-L Salgaocar 1-3 Pune FC at Goa
05/04/09 I2D Pune FC 1-0 Salgaocar FC at New Delhi