Beleaguered newcomers to the I-League, Rangdajied, will look for some speck of form as they look to upset fit and firing Pune FC
Round seven of the I-League sees Pune FC battle Meghalayans Rangdajied United at the Balewadi Sports Complex. Both teams head into this match in contrasting form as depicted by the league table.
The Red Lizards have won all their matches at home so far and are currently third in the I-League table whereas Rangdajied are winless in the competition with three losses and two draws. Not good reading for the away side.
Mike Snoei, their Dutch coach, will be keen to wrap up the game as quickly as possible given the current predicament of his opposition.
Pune have been impervious in the league so far having conceding just two goals in five matches. Calum Angus has been in the form of his life and no doubt his excellent dead-ball abilities and reading of the game in general have added to Pune’s defensive rigidity.
Yet, while their back four has been immense, their strikers have been less than impressive in the attacking third. With Raul Fabiani been released, much of the attacking pressure will come onto the shoulders of James Meyer and Thongkhosiem Haokip.
Pune FC are sweating on the fitness of Meyer who looked to have suffered an injury in the last game as he received treatment in the second half of their last game. This could leave them only with Haokip and Prakash Thorat up front, unless they do register Riga Mustapha, the Ghanian-born Dutch footballer who had had played under Snoei in his youth career at Vitesse. Arata Izumi, their top scorer, will be available for this match.
Snoei will have a slightly stretched squad available at his disposal, yet he knows that it could be more than enough to see of the away sides challenge.
Rangdajied United, meanwhile, head into this match with nothing to lose. The Shillong-based side have the worst defensive record in the league and are currently bottom of the heap. They have conceded twelve in five played so far with an average of 2.4 per game.
The Blue and Whites’ striking quartet simply haven’t delivered either with Sandip Gadkari and young striker T. Lalnunpuia notching up just a goal apiece. David Nghaite and Edmar Figueira haven’t contributed at all to a starved looking attack front three.
As usual versatile medio Eugeneson Lyngdoh will bear much of the burden. Santosh Kashyap, coach of Rangdajied United, did evaluate the grim nature of his team’s current form opining, “In our home matches, we get crowds. So there's a lot of 'josh' (fervor) over there. Over here, in our away games, only 'josh' is not enough; we need some 'hosh' (character) too,” in a post-match interview.
This will be the first time Pune FC and Rangdajied United will face each other in the I-League.
Bags of tricks and surprises are often a treat in the game of football and no doubt Rangdajied will head to Pune knowing they are well capable of an upset. Yet, Snoei’s men hold the advantage and the form. Difficult to see the game head the away side’s way, unless they play a blinder.
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