New Delhi: Seeking to climb up the ladder, Pune FC have got a tricky job on hand as they face hosts ONGC who have not lost a home game in the past five months, in a 24th round I-League encounter on Sunday.
Pune are now placed fourth in the points table with 37 points from 21 matches, 10 points behind leaders Churchill Brothers who have played a game extra.
ONGC are currently placed seventh with 30 points from 23 matches. But what has brought the I-League side into limelight is their remarkable form at home. ONGC have not lost a game since being beaten by Air India 2-4 last November.
Prayag United are third playing three matches more and having 38 points from their 24, while East Bengal are sitting second with 42 in their kitty from 24 outings.
Pune coach Derrick Pereira felt his side is still in the recokoning.
"Mathematically we are still in the hunt. That stays the motivation for the boys. We are all professionals and are here to get the best result. So I am optimistic," Pereira said ahead of the match at the Ambedkar Stadium.
"We need to win all our matches and we are working hard to achieve that. We need to put our best foot forward and the boys are training assiduously for that.
"We need to win all our matches and hope that Churchill loses three. They have a couple of tough matches against Dempo and Mohun Bagan. Nothing is impossible in sport," Pereira added.
Pereira though is aware of the fact that ONGC have made the venue their fortress.
"They have been very good at home and we are expecting a tough contest on the morrow. They are a young side with some quality players. Santosh (Kashyap) also has done a good job with the side.
"But having said that we have worked on their weaknesses and if we play to our potential, we can get the better of them in their own backyard," Pereira concluded.
Pune will be without the services of left back Gurjinder Kumar who is nursing a groin injury. N Mohanraj will take his place.
(Suresh) Raina is someone who scores at a very quick pace and he plays authentic cricketing shots.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni