Pune FC look to rub salt into Bagan’s wounds
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Fresh off a hard-fought win in Goa against Sporting Clube de Goa, Pune FC will take on traditional powerhouse Mohun Bagan on Sunday in round nine of the I-League. Pune FC will hope to capitalise on Mohun Bagan's drop in form and post a win at home after a series of lacklustre results at the Balewadi sports complex.
Pune FC have managed to win only one of the six matches they played against the Kolkata side in the I-league over the past four seasons. Also, Bagan's dominance has been such that they have opened the scoring in every game against Pune FC.
Mohun Bagan's new coach Karim Benchirifa goes into the game on the end of two disappointing performances — a draw with Mumbai FC in Pune before Dempo SC handed them a 0-3 drubbing in Goa. Moreover, with the much touted Kolkata Derby against East Bengal coming up, the pressure on the squad is clearly mounting, having picked up only a single point from the last two matches.
Incidentally, the first time Pune FC faced Bagan in Pune (2009-10), Bencharifa was in charge and managed a 3-1 win thanks to a Chidi Edeh hat-trick.
Pune FC coach Derrick Perreira said, "Every team has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Neutralising the strengths by putting pressure on weaknesses should win us the game."
While Bagan's over dependence on striker Odafa Okolie will be a job on hand, injuries have been a cause of concern for Bencharifa ever since taking over a week back. Okolie has scored six out of Bagan's eight goals this season and also managed to net against Pune FC in both games last season. Strikers Tolgay Ozbey, Anil Kumar, midfielder Manish Maithani, defender Khelemba Singh and goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya are all set to miss out due to injuries. Defenders Syed Nabi and Eche Anyichie are carrying knocks but may take the field.
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