Airtel i-League 2013-14: Pune FC host Rangdajied United FC

Pune FC are keen to maintain a healthy home record against newly promoted sides when they host Rangdajied United FC in an I-League Round-7 encounter at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, on Sunday.

Having played six matches in the past three seasons, Pune FC goes into the game of firsts unbeaten in five after moving up as a promoted side themselves back in 2009-10.  

Pune FC players practicing at Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune,
Picture Courtesy: Pune FC
The only unbeaten side in the ongoing season (2013-14), Pune FC enjoyed an extended break following their 1-0 win over Churchill Brothers owing to no fixture being scheduled. The new-comers, in contrast, have been on the road and will have to cope with the loss they suffered to Sporting Club.

A positive result for Pune FC will translate into a lot and begins by parking into a Top-2 slot on the table. The bottom-placed visitors, winless so far, however can be tricky which could stem from Pune FC taking them lightly.

Spearheaded by experienced Coach Santosh Kashyap, Rangdajied United FC have a host of ex-Pune FC players in their midst to provide up an interesting weekend under lights.          

Three away game defeats apart from choking in the scoring department is something Pune FC will want to exploit from Rangadjied. However, the hard-running team will certainly be eager to fetch their first points on their travels, something which the team and players are still taking some time to get used to.

Rangdajied United FC players practicing ahead of Pune FC clash
in the Airtel i-League 2013-14, Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune
Rangdajied Coach Santosh Kashyap is quite familiar with the surroundings after having coached coached Air India FC based out of Pune in the past. He would be hoping use his experience over the years at Balewadi to help his team adapt.

The visitors have retained services of majority of the players that helped them win the I-League 2nd division last year namely keeper Surjay Pariyar, defenders Poibang Poshna, Thomas Saikhom, playmakers Bhola Prasad, Abocha Singh and Korean attacker Shin Ho Jun while bringing in defenders Pratik Chaudhari and Munmun Lugun among others.

Both sides have players in their ranks which have played for the opposite team. Rangdajied trio of Brazilian striker Edmar Figueira, Senegalese defender Lamine Tamba and local Pune-lad and target-man Sandesh Gadkari will be up against their former side. For Edmar, it will be the first time since leaving India in 2010-11 that he will be up against Pune FC whereas Lamine Tamba (Air India and Churchill Bros) and Sandesh Gadkari (Air India) have already played against the hosts.

Other ex-Pune FC players in the Rangdajied roster are ‘keeper Shambhu Mistry - who played for the hosts while their time in the 2nd Division – and winger David Lalbiakzara, a former academy graduate.

On the other hand, Pune FC defender Zohmingliana Ralte plied his trade for Ar-Hima in 2007-08 (as Rangdajied used to be known earlier) before moving across to city rivals Lajong.

The visitors might be missing the services of captain and playmaker Eugeneson Lyngdoh, along with medio Restomwell Khriam and Japanese winger Yohei Iwasaki.

In contrast, Pune FC has a full squad available for selection with no injuries or suspensions to deal with. However, the biggest set-back the host’s think tank will have to deal with is the non-availability of striker Raul Fabiani, who has been ruled out for the season.

In fact, the management has not wasted time and signed on Riga Mustapha and have their fingers crossed to field him on the morrow provided his ITC comes through.

The only meeting between the two clubs took place in the IFA Shield in 2012 when Pune FC defeated Ar-Hima 3-0 in Howrah including a goal from medio Douhou Pierre. However, the result wasn’t good enough for Pune FC as Ar-Hima’s huge loss against Pailan Arrows helped the developmental side progress to the next round. The hosts would definitely like to settle this score.

Pune FC, on the eve of the match, have named a 20-man squad which includes Mustapha, with a decision of pruning the squad to 18 left until Sunday.

Pune FC (3rd, 10 points): W-W-D-W
Rangdajied United (13th, 2 points): L-L-D-D-L

06/03/12 – IFA Shield – Pune FC 3-0 Rangdajied Utd at Howrah
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