Pune FC to lock horns with Air India

Updated: Jan 02, 2011, 22:38 PM IST

Kolhapur: Pune FC begin their New Year campaign with an aim to improve their unimpressive I-League record against bottom-placed Air-India in a round seven encounter at the Rajarshi Shahu Stadium here on Monday.

Two losses to the Mumbai side makes the clash a dead-serious affair despite PFC going into the game, buoyed by the win against Salgaocar SC as compared Air India who were handed a humiliating 1-6 defeat by East Bengal at Kolkata.

To make matters worse, PFC so far have not managed force a win during their visits to Kolhapur which includes a loss and a draw.

Air-India’s defeat to East Bengal could go either way for PFC, which is exactly what PFC coach Derrick Pereira felt after a practice session at the stadium.

"How they (Air-India) are going to come out of defeat is something time will tell," the coach said.

In fact, ever since this huge defeat, Air-India has been under new coach Santosh Kashyap (earlier Yusif Ansari was in charge), which in a way means new ideas and tactics as well.

However, known to be a defensive a side, Air-India will certainly not be looking to slip further in confidence.

Apart from the I-League losses, PFC have had their share of success against their opponents the recent was during the Federation Cup 2010 which PFC won 2-0.

"We should do well," is all that Derrick offers.

Incidentally, PFC`s victory has been the only success they managed in five meetings so far, which includes a draw as well.

PFC, currently eighth on the table, have the capabilities of earning full points, but much will depend on their opponents.

"If we play the way we did in the last game there is a possibility of a good result," adds Derrick.

On the team composition, Derrick is expected to continue with the existing set up barring medio and skipper Ajayan Nair, who sits out owing to a hamstring injury he picked up in the last match.

Ajayan`s absence will be met by medio Lester Fernandez who returns to the squad after serving a one-match suspension. Upfront, Brazillian striker Edmar Figuera continues to recuperate and is a non-starter.

PFC may possesses the confidence ahead of the game, but Air-India can be equally tough for one thing is sure that they certainly do not want to remain confined to the cellar.

PTI