The Red Lizards will look to do a double over the Mariners on Saturday and end the year on a high...
Mohun Bagan shall host Pune FC in a round 16 I-League match this weekend, in a fixture that turns out to be important for both the teams, though for different reasons.
The Mariners are going through a rough patch and their recent clashes against Dempo SC and Mumbai FC have raised eyebrows over their performances. After coming back from an injury in the Kolkata derby, Odafa Okolie has scored only one goal in this I-League campaign and this fact is of little surprise that their club is last in the list of goals scored this term.
A section of Bagan officials have called for Karim Bencherifa, their head coach, to be given the boot, a 3-0 win in the midweek in the Calcutta Premier League has given them a breather.
“Pune are one of the balanced sides in the league. I am an admirer of Calum Angus, their centre-back and Douhou (Pierre) in midfield. However we will look to get a positive result,” said Bencherifa.
Anything short of a win can pose a serious threat to Bencherifa’s tenure at the helm of the Kolkata giants.
Manish Bhargav’s injury will add to the woes of Bencherifa who is already missing the likes of Shankar Oraon, Adil Khan and Wahid Sali. In his absence Pankaj Moula will once again get his share of I-League action while either Ram Malik or Sathyan Sabeeth will start on the flank. Christopher Chizoba will be playing as a withdrawn forward behind Odafa Okolie.
Talking of the away side, Pune FC have recovered from a dry run with a 2-1 win over United SC last weekend and their extended stay in the city has made them accustomed with the weather as well.
Mike Snoei, the man in charge of the travelling side, now has a completely fit squad at his disposal, with Arata Izumi coming back from suspension and Gurjinder Kumar recovering from an injury.
“Bagan have a nice group of players and it’s surprising that their results haven’t been that good,” said Pune FC coach Mike Snoei.
While a win in this fixture will hand Mohun Bagan the much-needed momentum before the Federation Cup, three points will help the Pune side complete another lap in the title-race. And if you keep in mind the feud between Karim Bencherifa and Mike Snoei that took place after the first-leg match, this is another exciting I-League match in the offing.
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