Airtel i-League 2013-14: Pune FC host Mohun Bagan


Pune FC players get ready for Mohun Bagan challenge in their Airtel i-League 2013-14 Encounter, Picture Courtesy: Pune FC

Last year’s runners-up Pune FC face a load of expectations against Mohun Bagan AC when they set foot for their first home game in the I-League 2013-14, on Thursday.

Unbeaten in two rounds, Pune FC also brace up to the fact that the first show at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mhalunge-Balewadi in all four seasons yielded points.

Having begun their campaign away in this edition, Thursday’s encounter is biggest for home fans who last remember a win and was party to Pune FC’s best ever finish in the league.

Under lights on the morrow, Mike Snoei’s Pune FC, will thus, hope to take off from where they left off.

Pune FC Coach, Mike Snoei said: “I am looking forward to the game. All my players and especially the foreigners are looking forward to the big games.”

“I hope we can get more people into the stadium, because on paper it is a fantastic game.”

Pune FC (4 points) currently occupies 5th position in the league, while their winless Kolkata counterparts (2 points) are in the bottom half of the league in eighth spot making the clash utmost important.

Both teams go into the match after an extended break. Pune FC’s Round-3 clash against East Bengal was cancelled, while Mohun Bagan did not have a match scheduled.

Interestingly, this the second time Pune FC opens their home campaign against Mohun Bagan with the last being back in 2010-11.

Both teams in fact share a common stat; that being carrying forward an unbeaten streak that stretching from last season. Pune FC is unbeaten in seven games (including two games this season), while Bagan are unbeaten in five. Incidentally, Bagan’s last I-League defeat came at the hands of Pune FC in Kalyani back in April.

Bagan, who are on their third consecutive away trip, are still without a win in the league after draws against Bengaluru FC and Churchill Brothers in the opening two rounds. However, the team have been kept busy competitively, having won two Kolkata league matches in this period.

The visitors have revamped their squad ahead of this campaign and have brought in a number of players. Keeper Sandip Nandy, defenders Kingshuk Debnath and Wahid Sali, midfielders MP Sakeer and Japanese Katsumi Yusa along with Kenyan striker Eric Muranda are new arrivals.

The Karim Bencherifa led side have retained few players from last season - playmaker Denson Devadas, defenders Aiborlang Khongjee, Nigerian Celestine Eche and forward CS Sabeeth continue at Bagan. However, the visitors will be missing services of talismanic striker Odafa Okolie along with midfielders Manish Bhargav and Adil Khan.

Pune FC Coach adds: “We are looking forward to play against better players; to compare our level with theirs, I am very curious.”

The home side will be back to their best as they welcome back striker Raul Fabiani. The 6’6” Equato-Guinean missed the previous game owing to a one-match suspension following his double-booking against Mohammedan Sporting in opener.

Medio Dhanapal Ganesh will be the only player unavailable due to injury while playmaker Lalrempuia Fanai is away on National Duty. The rest of the squad is fit and available for selection.

The home side in fact, go into the game effecting one change in the 18 that played the last round against Shillong Lajong FC. The change being Fabiani replacing experienced midfielder Shanmugam Venkatesh in the 18-man squad.

Over the years, the head-to-head record marginally tilts in the visitors favour. Bagan has four wins compared to two for Pune FC; both teams have played out four draws in ten games in all competitions. However, in Pune, the record is tied at one win each and a couple of draws.

In Bagan’s travelling squad, Sabeeth is the only one who has breached the Pune FC defense. For the hosts midfielders Douhou Pierre and Arata Izumi have both scored against Bagan in the past. An interesting fact is that this fixture in Pune has always seen goals scored by both sides on each occasion.


FORM RUN

Pune FC (5th; 4 pts): W-D

Mohun Bagan (8th; 2 pts): D-D

HEAD TO HEAD


24/04/13 – i-League – Mohun Bagan 1-3 Pune FC
08/03/13 – IFA Shield – Mohun Bagan 3-0 Pune FC
02/12/12 – i-League – Pune FC 2-2 Mohun Bagan
06/05/12 – i-League – Mohun Bagan 2–0 Pune FC
03/01/12 – i-League - Pune FC 2–1 Mohun Bagan
21/03/11 – IFA Shield – Mohun Bagan 2–0 Pune FC
12/02/11 – i-League – Mohun Bagan 0–0 Pune FC
03/12/10 – i-League – Pune FC 1–1 Mohun Bagan
10/03/10 – i-League – Mohun Bagan 0–0 Pune FC
13/11/09 – i-League – Pune FC 1–3 Mohun Bagan



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About Debraj Banerjee

Hi, I am Debraj Banerjee from Adra, West Bengal. A keen follower of Indian football and always an optimist that the game will get the recognition it truely deserves. What we ask from you is your support and one day the dream might turn true. Fingers crossed for Indian football. Cheers!

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