Pune FC will engage themselves in a battle for the top spot against DSK Shivajians in the Maharashtra Zone of the Under-18 I-League at the DSK Football Field in Loni on Sunday.
Renewing their rivalry after a thrilling 2-2 draw in the first leg at Mamurdi back in November, both sides will be eager to take the upper hand in the zonal phase going into their respective last round encounters.
Going into the game, leaders Pune FC (16 points, GD +33) are separated from second-placed DSK Shivajians (16 pts, GD +29) only by goal difference. Moreover, the fact that a win on the morrow will effectively seal a zonal phase triumph will be enough motivation for either side.
Speaking ahead of the big game, Pune FC Coach Naushad Moosa said, “We expect a tough game and it will be a close encounter like the first leg. Shivajians’ strength lies in their attacking as they have quick and speedy players up front; so we need to be careful. Every game is important but this one even more given the fact that they are local rivals.”
Back in the first leg between the two sides, Pune FC took the lead before Shivajians struck twice in the first half to go 2-1 up. Pune FC then staged a brilliant comeback to level scores and share spoils and a similar battle is expected on Sunday.
“Both sides go into the game after a run of three successive wins, so the confidence levels are high. We are looking forward for a good match and hope to give a positive performance,” added Coach Moosa.
On the team news front, Pune FC has been boosted by the availability of the trio of Sanchayan Samadder, Ashique Kuruniyan and Sahil Panwar after serving a one-game suspension each.
Over the years, both sides have faced off four times with Pune FC leading the head-to-head by two wins to one. Moreover, the clashes between two sides have always been high scoring with at least four goals being shared per game. Interestingly, the home side is yet to log a win in this tie and with Pune FC winning both the games played at the DSK Football Field, they will be hoping for a similar result.
The match at Loni will be played under floodlights and kicks off at 5.30PM IST.
02/11/2015 – Pune FC 2-2 DSK Shivajians at Pune
20/04/2015 – DSK Shivajians 2-4 Pune FC at Loni
13/01/2015 – DSK Shivajians 1-3 Pune FC at Loni
19/12/2014 – Pune FC 1-3 DSK Shivajians at Pune