Pune FC eyeing pole position vs misfiring Mohun Bagan
Kolkata: Visiting Pune FC will be eyeing a lead before the I-League takes a seven week break when they face a struggling Mohun Bagan in a Round 16 fixture at Barasat Stadium, here tomorrow.
Currently holding the third place with 24 points, the Pune outfit, who defeated United SC 2-1 in the last round, are enjoying a fine success rate.
Having won the first leg 2-0, Pune FC will be looking to score the double against a team who are struggling to get their act together.
Pune coach Mike Snoei will look forwrad to the return of India international Arata Izumi from suspension even as the team will miss the services of Nikhil Kadam due to an injury.
All the eyes would be on Mustapha Riga, a former Bolton and Levante player, who is in top form after netting a match-winning brace against United SC last weekend.
Snoei`s side have won both their away matches against Kolkata clubs this season and Pune lead the head-to-head record in the I-League with three wins, four draws and two defeats.
Lying 10th with five points separating them from last placed Churchill Brothers, Mohun Bagan lost to Dempo in their last round as both coach Karim Bencherifa and ace striker Odafa Okolie are under severe pressure with intense speculation about their future.
As time is running out for both of them, it remains to be seen how the Nigerian goal machine, who does not seem to be fully fit, overcomes from his lean patch.
The team will miss out on young midfielder Manish Bhargav, who is nursing an injury.
"Pune FC are a quality side with a great blend of local and foreign talent. We have to start afresh and give a strong performance," Bencherifa said.