I-League

24 April 2013   15:30
Kalyani Stadium, Kolkata

Pune FC has reason to charge at Mohun Bagan

Pune FC has a lot at stake when they take on Mohun Bagan in an I-League (Round-16) away encounter on Wednesday.

Keen to gain maximum, Pune FC have two reasons to go out and extend their winning run. First up is the theoretical fact that the title is yet to be decided. Churchill Brothers still need of 2 points from 2 games to top, which gives Pune FC a chance.

The other is the realistic aspect of playing for the second spot in order to finish with the highest-ever achievement. Pune FC’s rival for this club-high is second placed East Bengal, who play their rounds after Pune FC gets the first shot at setting the pace.

Pune FC Coach Derrick Pereira said, “Although we had two good matches successively, Bagan are tougher opposition. It’s now that we need to step up mentally as well as physically. We need to be better in order to continue our form.”

However, in order for Pune FC to push both reasons, consistent wins over the next three games, including Bagan is necessary.

Apart from league positions, Pune FC look to exact revenge on two counts – last season’s (2011-12) away game loss dashed third position hopes and the IFA Shield (0-3) loss earlier this year. With the game on the morrow of vital importance, Pune FC hope to extract confidence from the fact they have been the best travelers this season picking up the most wins (9) and points (27) than any other team.

Pune FC coach added, “After our loss to Churchill Brothers, I felt and prepared myself to set a target of winning all the remaining games and hope. The players were game too for this. However, Bagan’s loss to Churchill Brothers made it tougher… now we look for a win to be realistic of achieving the best position.”

Bagan themselves have their own targets and is certain to be tough opponents. Set with a mission of driving up the table to the maximum, Bagan, until the last round loss (v Churchill Brothers) had an impressive run. From bottom-most (owing to AIFF sanctions following the Kolkata Derby fiasco) to beyond the relegation zone in a span of 12 games makes up evidence enough.

Eight of those I-League games were at Kalyani, where Bagan have picked up 5 wins and 2 draws and scored 18 times.

The order might seems tall, but Pune FC will look up to their current two-match winning form (includes scoring 7 goals in 2 clean sheet games) and try to exploit the opponents who have had let ups in defence and conceded 8 times. In fact, Bagan, under new coach Karim Bencharifa, has just 2 clean-sheets.

Moreover the fixture pile-up for the home side, fatigue factor of key players is ample reason Pune FC hope to explore. Add over-dependency on Odafa Okolie (16) and Tolgay Ozbey (9) for goals upfront can work to advantage if worked out by strategy.

On the squad news front, Pune FC, welcomes back Nigerian defender Chika Wali (suspended in last match), while winger Karma Tsewang is back to full-fitness and has traveled as part of the 19-member playing squad to Kalyani.

Likewise, the changes in squad of the last match are; Abhra Mondal (for Shahinlal Meloly), Srikant Ramu (for Caitano Costa), Karma (Subash Singh), Sukhwinder Singh (Nikhil Kadam).

Bagan, likewise, has a full squad to chose from. Nigerian defender Eche is back from the one-match suspension, which probably will force Namibian Quinton drop to the bench. But with the likes of Jewel Raja and Snehasis Chakraborty, Bagan have enough options for them to supplement their 3-man midfield marshalled by Denson Devdas and Manish Maithani, who look to supply Odafa, Tolgay and their third attacker up-front.

The clash between the two sides is the tenth time ever and the eighth in I-League. The head to head, however, tilts Bagan’s way. So far, Pune FC has won one match (in Pune) and Bagan 4. Interestingly, Pune FC will also be out to seek their first win over Bagan in Kolkata having visited the city five times before.

Encounters in the past have been tough, barring the last one in IFA Shield, with Pune FC having Arata Izumi (2), Douhou Pierre, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Chika Wali score in in the past. Bagan in the same fixture has had Odafa (5), Sabeeth (2) and Snehasis (1) log goals against Pune FC.

With the encounter having enough for both teams to achieve, Pune FC will be eager to sign off their final road-trip with the reputation they’ve earned this season. Moreover, full points shall also set a few records straight for Pune FC.

Match Detail

  • I-League 2012-13

    Round 16

  • Form Guide

    • FORM RUN (Last 5 Matches)

      Mohun Bagan (12th; 22 points): L-W-W-W-W

      Pune FC (3rd; 43 points): W-W-L-W-D

      Bagan ‘Home’ Form: L-W-W-W-D-D-W-D-W-W-L

      PFC ‘Away’ Form: W-W-L-W-L-W-W-W-W-W-W-L

      HEAD TO HEAD

      08/03/13 – IFS – Mohun Bagan 3-0 Pune FC

      02/12/12 – IL – Pune FC 2-2 Mohun Bagan

      06/05/12 – IL – Mohun Bagan 2–0 Pune FC

      03/01/12 – IL - Pune FC 2–1 Mohun Bagan

      21/03/11 – IFS – Mohun Bagan 2–0 Pune FC

      12/02/11 – IL – Mohun Bagan 0–0 Pune FC

      03/12/10 – IL – Pune FC 1–1 Mohun Bagan

      10/03/10 – IL – Mohun Bagan 0–0 Pune FC

      13/11/09 – IL – Pune FC 1–3 Mohun Bagan

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