The game promises to be a classic with Mumbai and Untied SC gunning for a place atop of the table with the purple brigade keen to end Mumbai’s loss-less streak...
The Mumbaikars record so far is unblemished. They have two draws and a win so far in their opening three games and are pushing fourth behind, ironically, United SC.
Mumbai FC are in good shape and have selected the same 18-man squad that put champions Churchill to the sword in Goa.
Khalid Jamil, Mumbai FC coach, is certainly a pleased man and with his team gaining by the addition of the ilk of Sanjdar Ahmadi to their squad, he knows his team are certainly capable of beating anyone on their day. What’s more, Yusif Yakubu, a Ghanaian striker, is still to link up with the team, so conditions will improve still.
"The team is fit and is raring to go. The win has lifted the morale of the team. We hope to extend the away success into our home game," elucidated Jamil summing up the mood in the home camp.
Meanwhile, on the away front, one mustn’t underestimate the sheer presence and power of the purple brigade under Eelco Schattorie.
They have made a solid start to the 2013-14 I-League season and find themselves third with two wins and a loss. The loss was suffered in the last round, when United SC succumbed to Bengaluru FC by a solitary goal.
So, getting back to winning ways will be impetuous for the Kolkata based club and no way better to make a statement than to wipe clean Mumbai’s perfect start to the season.
Though wary of the attacking Mumbai FC’s attacking threat, the coach knows that a desire to position themselves atop of the table cannot be compromised in any way.
However, a few issues are still posing a threat to derail United SC’s bid for a victory none more so than the coach Eelco Schattorie’s suspension from the dugout for two games.
Also, Lal Kamal Bhowmick and Tapan Maity will miss this encounter due to injuries.
The United SC boss, though perplexed by a lack of fitness showed by the squad, acknowledges the tough task ahead and has vowed to work on areas such as defence to strengthen the team. “Yes, I know the defense is not working well. I am having a look into it.”
He also elucidated, “They are a difficult team. They beat us last year twice. The only thing I hope they don’t rely on time wasting tactics. I hope the referee does something about it.”
United SC have faced the wrath of Mumbai FC twice last year losing both the games, yet cause for optimism is translucent in the form of the brigadiers in purple. Mumbai FC though, have a far better record against the opposition, this one specifically, having won five matches out of a grand total of thirteen bouts, with United SC winning four.
This being a night game, will be played under the floodlights at the Balewadi stadium in Pune.
The onus then, is on United SC to get back to winning ways against an old foe, but Mumbai FC remain a far more tactically stringer side and the loss of Schatorrie on the sidelines will be a major cause for concern for the visitors.
What is at stake is a stronghold at the top of the table and both these teams know fluffing their lines will do them no good. The winner takes all.