Airtel i-League 2013-14: Pune FC to host United SC

Dutch coach Mike Snoei and Pune Football Club are living a dream week after getting a play-off berth in the top tier AFC Champions League and would like to celebrate the occasion by winning the first match at home since that announcement.

As Pune FC take on United Sports Club in the Round 12 match of the Airtel I-League, the home team gets an added boost this Sunday with the BBC crew choosing Pune FC from among all clubs for its series of documentaries on rising India.

Pune FC take on United SC at Balewadi Sports Complex in
the Airtel i-League clash on Sunday, Picture Courtesy: PuneFC
The evening match between Pune FC and United SC will be documented as part of the series and that itself should give the home team major boost to take on resilient Kolkata Club United SC.

Pune FC is currently on the top with 18 points, same as the top two clubs, Salgaocar FC and Bengaluru FC.

United SC is at No 4 position with 16 points and have been a revelation this season despite running on low finances and travelling around the country in train while other team players fly to various venues.

After two back-to-back draws against Goan clubs, Pune FC will look to find their winning touch back. When they played at the Balewadi Sports Complex last, Mike Snoei’s men beat the in-form and mighty Bengaluru FC.

“Sometimes you need to be content with one point and look forward to play better than the last game,” says Snoei on the eve of the match.

What makes Pune FC so confident is that they have not lost any of the home games this season. On top of that, Pune FC have never lost to the Kolkata rivals in a home encounter over four seasons. Pune FC have won thrice and drawn one game in the four matches played so far here.

“Our ambition is to win, play well and continue to push ourselves. I am looking forward to the game. The game will be also against my country man (Eelco Schattorie),” the Pune FC coach added.

Pune FC will look towards Mustafa Riga, who has been in fine form saving the team on many a occasion since he joined midway through the season. That besides, defender Denechandra Meitei and medio Dhanpal Ganesh have been added to the 18-member member squad in place of Othallo Tabia and Srikanth Ramu.

Midfielder Arata Izumi has been prolific against United SC and it would be another chance for him to give his team an early edge against United SC, who depend on their foreign duo of Ranti Martins and Eric Brown of Liberia.

At the back, Nigerian Bello Rasaq and new signing, Syrian Hasan Moustafa have marshaled the defense well. They however, will be missing the services of experienced custodian Sangram Mukherjee, in whose place young Ishan Debnath may start in the goal.

With playmaker and long-serving Lalkamal Bhowmick too missing, the likes of Souvik Chakrabarti, K Asif, Snehasis Chakraborty and ex-Pune FC midfielder Baldeep Singh are expected to fill in.
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