Pune hope to beat East Bengal
Pune FC are keen to set the record straight against East Bengal, whom they host in a return-leg I-League football round 25 encounter at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex here Saturday.
Facing East Bengal for the second time in eight days, Pune FC will seek to avenge their 1-3 defeat in Kolkata in the rescheduled first leg encounter.
Furthermore, having dropped down into the seventh place in the standings, the game on the morrow is a must win for Pune FC to strengthen their bid for a top-5 finish.
Going into the game, East Bengal are still in the title-race. However, their challenge took a major hit with a 1-0 loss to Churchill Brothers in Goa and Pune FC will look to compound more despair on their opponents.
Moreover, East Bengal will be missing services of a host of important players. For starts, the foreign duo of South Sudan striker James Moga and influential defender Uga Okpara along with skipper Mehtab Hussain are out with injury. Add to that, vice-captain Harmanjot Khabra too will be missing as he serves a one match suspension for a sending off in the previous game; something Pune FC will look to capitalise on.
East Bengal will be once again banking heavily on the attacking trio of Nigerian striker Chidi Edeh, Japanese playmaker Ryuji Sueoka and winger Lalrindika Ralte.
Pune FC coach Mike Snoei was optimistic ahead of the game.
"We must try and reward the team for the good play that we have shown in the recent games. And to do that, winning should be our primary target in the three remaining games (2 in I-League, 1 in AFC Cup)," he said.
On the Pune FC team news front, talismanic defender Anas Edathodika will be making his comeback from injury while long-term absentees Nikhil Kadam and Lalrempuia Fanai will be missing out.
Over the years, both sides have met eleven times with East Bengal having an upper hand boasting seven wins compared to Pune FC`s two. However, the record in Pune is tied at one-win-a-piece and the home side will be keen on improving it.
Moreover, a win on the morrow will also help Pune FC break their jinx against East Bengal with a first win over the Kolkata-side in three years.