The Red Lizards aim for their fifth consecutive win as they look to take on Nathan Hall's team at Paljor Stadium in Gangtok...
UNITED SIKKIM FC
Safar, Anwar, Farid, Das;
Mashangva, Ansari, Rodriguez, Thupden;
Ramu, Edathodika, Wali, Gurujinder;
Karma, Mumtaz, Douhou, Paite;
Two teams with different league ambitions face each other in this crucial game at Gangtok. Pune FC with twenty-six points from twelve games are serious title-contenders whereas United Sikkim resting at the bottom of the table with just nine points from twelve games look to avoid relegation.
With just one defeat from their last ten games, the Red Lizards will be fairly confident going into the match. Derrick Pereira's men have been close to unbeatable and will look to consolidate their position at the top but will have to face another challenge against the Snow Lions.
On the other hand, Sikkim won last in early October against Salgoacar and will be content with a draw against the Red Lizards. Nathan Hall has made it clear that their aim is to survive relegation from the I-League and a point against the in-form Pune FC team would leave him pleased.
Given Pune's run of form, this match won't be an easy task for Derrick Pereira's side with the home fans, cold weather and the artificial pitch at Paljor stadium heavily loaded against them.
“It’s getting colder every day here in Gangtok, freezing at times. The players have taken a while to acclimatize to the conditions despite arriving 4-to-5 days in advance. For our opponents it is their home ground and they are used to the prevailing conditions,” the coach explained during his team's morning workout at the Stadium.
Pune FC won their first ever game in the north east against Shillong Lajong FC and will be ready for this challenge.
Pereira added, "We expect a good match. I am hoping to have pleasant weather with the sun out."
United Sikkim would be drawing confidence from their reverse fixture in a game in which they dominated. "Pune FC are not invincible. We have no other option but to win all our home matches if we are to survive our first season in the I-League. There is no option but to win. Yes, it is a tough task but our boys will give hundred percent in the ground", said United Sikkim manager Arunava Bhattacharya.
The last time these two teams met, it resulted in an entertaining 2-2 draw at Balewadi Stadium, Pune. This match promises to be no less entertaining.
United Sikkim FC: Skipper Bhaichung Bhutia will miss out due to a foot injury along with Togo midfielder DG Attivi. The rest of the team should remain the same.
Pune FC: Jeje Lalpekhlua suffered an injury in the last game. However, he has recovered and was back in training. The Red Lizards will also miss their right-back Othallo Tabia due to injury and is likely to be replaced by N. Mohanraj in the eighteen.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
- Pune FC are the only team to defeat all the Goan clubs in Goa.
- United Sikkim have drawn 6 of their last 7 games
- Pune FC has a goal difference of +12 whereas USFC's goal difference is -12.
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