Having tasted the season’s first away success in Goa, Pune FC has a job on hand when they take on high-riding and current I-League leaders Churchill Brothers, in the costal state on Wednesday.
Both teams go into this Round-11 encounter stretching their unbeaten runs respectively. Pune FC is on a 4-match run, while the home side boasts one-more, the last being a thumping victory over Shillong Lajong FC at home.
But, while the Goans enjoy near-immediate statistical highs the one thing that Pune FC enjoy at the Nehru Stadium, Fatorda is their success rate that has just one loss in eight visits for League games and includes 4 wins.
In fact, Pune FC has a clear record against Churchill Brothers, in Goa and remains one of the two positives they will like to bank on. The other is taking heart from the sensational 3-2 win in their last game to finish in the Top-5 in last edition of the league and spoil the Goan’s hopes of finishing second.
Coach Derrick Pereira feels, “Every match is different. Statistics motivate, but what remains is going out and working hard consistently and maintain the good work.”
“We have proved to ourselves that we can upset the best,” the coach added.
So far, the Goans are undefeated at home in five games including two ‘neutral-venue’ games against state rivals. This, in a way means, Pune FC have a task on hand and need to up their performance despite going through the vagaries of travel over the past week.
On the eve of the game, Pune FC preferred a light workout with the objective of preserving energy levels. The coach explained, “my only concern is playing three matches in seven days… else I am confident.”
Having played out a frustrating goalless draw in the last match (v Mumbai FC) at home wherein chances went abegging, the coach confidently said, “That is not my concern presently… but being travel weary is.”
As opponents, the coach felt they are a good side. Their strength will be their strikers and Beto in the midfield, which will put the onus on the defenders to do well.
Pune FC go into the game without central defender Anas Edathodika, who is out with a double booking and in his place Rolling Hungyo has travelled with the squad.
“A couple of changes will be in the offing,” said the coach.
Likewise, central midfielder Baldeep Singh, who turned ill in Goa the last time the squad landed to play, is another regular omitted from the squad.
Pune FC are currently 7th on the league table with 15 points and will be keen to shake themselves off from the mid-table clutter that has three teams vying to get into the Top-5, which includes prayag united SC (17 points) and Air-India (16 points).
FORM RUN (Last 5 matches)
Pune FC (7th, 15 points): D-W-W-W-L
Churchill Brothers (1st, 23 points): W-W-W-D-W
31/05/11 IL Churchill Bros 2-3 Pune FC Goa
22/01/11 IL Pune FC 0-1 Churchill Bros Pune
20/05/10 IL Pune FC 4-1 Churchill Bros Pune
28/10/09 IL Churchill Bros 1-1 Pune FC Goa