In the Round 17 encounter between two teams separated by three points at the top of the table, a win will allow Sporting to go level with Bengaluru FC...Pune FC under new coach, Mike Snoei had begun their campaign in style bagging 13 points in their first five matches out of a maximum of 15. They did stumble against the very same opposition they are to face in Pune on Sunday.
Off late though they are going through a bad patch with two losses and a draw against minnows Eagles FC in the recently concluded Federation Cup. Preceding that, they went down to low key Rangdajied United, Mumbai FC and Mohun Bagan as the I-League was wrapping up for its first half.
With early signing Raul Fabiani being replaced by Mustapha Riga due to an injury, the Dutchman has been deployed in a number nine role - a position he has never played in his career before.
Their tryst with the AFC Champions League too could not last long as they failed to clear the first hurdle itself, going down miserably to Hanoi at home.
Standing in their way is Sporting Clube de Goa who have clearly been the surprise package this season. A team which has always astounded watchers with its flair play but have always been inconsistent, have suddenly under Oscar Bruzon played with much more stability.
Their on field results have also rewarded their confidence as they are firmly in the hunt for their first I-League, trailing Bengaluru by 3 points with a game in hand.
The Goan side managed to reach the finals of the Federation Cup too but were humbled 3-1 by fellow rivals, Churchill Brothers but that would hardly have much of an impact on the I-League.
The two pillars of SC Goa's runaway success this season has been the foreign pair of Arturo Garcia who has marashaled his midfield with aplomb and defender Gonzalo Neila, besides the obvious suspect in Ogba Kalu who has been in blistering form too, scoring at will. Garcia has since been replaced by Martin Ekwueme. They have also added Chinta Chandrashekhar, Nalappan Mohanraj and Royston D'Souza from the now defunct Mumbai Tigers.
"I am pleased with the three quality new signings and I am grateful to the management for ensuring our team stay competitive in the remaining half of the I-League," said coach Oscar Bruzon.
It is sure to be a cracking encounter when both these teams meet and Pune FC will be raring to take their revenge on Sporting to be back in the title hunt which seems to be slipping away.
How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.