Pressure is mounting on the Mariners to finally turn around their fortunes. However the Red Lizards themselves have been far from their usual stable self this season....
Ramu, Edathodika, Costa, Gurjinder;
Daisuke, Mumtaz, Douhou, Arata,
N.Chettri, Khongjee, Wadoo, Nabi;
Pune FC take on Mohun Bagan knowing that a win here could see them climb to 4th in the table if other results go their way, with a game in hand over their rivals.
The Red Lizards though, have not really looked the stable outfit of previous seasons at home this time round, conceding twice against Mumbai FC, ONGC and United Sikkim. While they won the first two games 3-2, they were held to a draw by the North-East outfit.
A 1-0 defeat to Churchill further compounded their misery and they head into the game against the Mariners hoping to put in a better all-round performance. The win against Sporting Clube de Goa will have come as a relief to Derrick Pereira’s side, but they were outplayed by the Flaming Oranje for most of the game, and were lucky to come away with a win. It must also be noted that the coach made as many as five changes to his lineup against Sporting from the team that started in the 2-2 draw against United Sikkim.
The problem for the Red Lizards has primarily been in central midfield, where a partner for Douhou Pierre has yet to be found. Mumtaz Akhtar, Izumi Arata and Chika Wali have all been tried there, but with mixed results. Neither has Douhou's form been praiseworthy.
Plenty to ponder over for the Moroccan...
The concerns of the Pune-based club though, dwarf in comparison to those of the Mariners. Having picked up 10 points under interim manager Mridul Banerjee before Karim Bencherifa finally took over, just when one thought the tide had turned for Mohun Bagan, they ended up being held to a draw by Mumbai FC before being absolutely demolished by Dempo SC.
Fans, who were quick to turn on Santosh Kashyap, now realise how unbalanced and under-prepared the squad actually is. Options from the bench are scarce and their attacking philosophy revolves around getting the ball to Odafa Okolie.
As shown by Mumbai FC, closing down the space infront of the Nigerian can effectively render the entire team toothless, something other sides will look to take an advantage of.
Injuries have further curtailed the Moroccan’s options, with the big summer signing, Tolgay Ozbey, being joined on the treatment table by Anil Kumar, medio Manish Maithani, defender Khelemba Singh and goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya. Syed Rahim Nabi and Eche Anyichie are also being nursed through games, as they are suffering from minor injuries as well.
With 11 points, the Kolkatan outfit have only half as many as league leaders Dempo SC, which must surely give their supporters sleepless nights. The players shall know that another negative result will probably not be welcomed back home, heaping further pressure on the beleaguered squad.
Pune FC – The Red Lizards welcomed back Abhra Mondal against Sporting Clube de Goa and Sukhwinder Singh is the only senior player who is recovering from an injury.
Mohun Bagan – As stated above, several injury issues have held the Mariners back. Strikers Tolgay Ozbey and Anil Kumar, medio Manish Maithani, defender Khelemba Singh and goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya are all ruled out. Eche Anyichie and Syed Rahim Nabi remain doubtful, while Biswajit Saha is suspended.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Games between the two sides have always been a close affair, with the last five producing a win each for both the clubs, with 3 draws.
- In 4 games, Pune FC have conceded a whopping 7 goals at Balewadi Sports Complex and are yet to keep a cleansheet.
- On the other hand, Mohun Bagan have managed just 2 goals in 5 away games.
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