MARGAO: Pune FC is out on a mission to put on a far better show than the last round when they take on Sporting Clube de Goa in the I-League at Nehru Stadium, Fatorda, on Tuesday.
Having settled for a point with United Sikkim SC at home, Pune FC is in no mood to move focus away from getting back to winning ways.
Pune FC coach Derrick Pereira says, “The players need to pull up their socks and put on a better performance. They need to work as a team.”
With hardly any time to work on their shortfalls owing to the tight schedule of the league, Pune FC on Monday evening had a long team meeting after a stretching session hours after arrival. Pune FC’s Goan rivals, meanwhile, will be out for this Round-8 encounter on similar lines after having lost to Pailan Arrows at home.
In the given situation, Pune FC will be hoping for the form and experience of South Sudan striker James Moga, who figured in the Sporting Goa team last season, to come good.
Likewise, Jeje Lalpekhlua (2), Chika Wali, Arata Izumi and Douhou Pierre have netted against Sporting in the past also gives coach hope in the form of the experience they possess.
Sporting virtually boast of the same squad as last season, barring the two foreigners Japanese Sugishita and Nigerian Obiora, and thus Moga’s can be the vital link for Pune FC work towards bounce back on their first visit to the costal state. However, their talisman Ogba Kalu and in-form-Indian striker Dawson Fernandes (each with 2 goals apiece in the league to their name) will be the key-men Pune FC will have to keep tabs on. Kalu netted in both the games last season too, while Dawson also got a goal at Fatorda.
Pune FC coach opines, “So far they seem to be still in a building up process situation. We have a job on hand and will stick to that.”
Pune FC has made two changes in the 18 named for the game against USFC. Long-serving medio Shanmugam Venkatesh, sidelined due to groin injury and Khanthang Paite return to the squad in place of Nikhil Kadam and Othallo Tabia. The coach adds,“The playing eleven will have changes for sure,” and added, “The midfield has to work as a unit. I hope that the last match (vs United Sikkim FC) was one off, but honestly I never expected to see them perform in the way they did.”
Meanwhile, Sporting striker Victorino Fernandes will serve a one-match suspension after he was shown the red card against Arrows.
With the game scheduled under lights, a first for Pune FC, the coach feels that the cooler temperatures should help perform better than a summer day. “I must say the ground conditions are much better, which will help moving the ball around and helps our style of play.”
Encounters in the past between the two squads have been close, barring the one Pune FC won handsomely. However, when Pune FC takes on the ‘Flaming Oranje,’ the one factor that stands out is the loss suffered in the last meeting.
With a clear objective in mind, Pune FC also seek to that their overall good record at Fatorda holds in good stead, which in turn would also end their winless run against Sporting Clube Goa in their backyard. In two previous visits, Pune FC after taking the lead has not earned a desirable result.
Interestingly, four goals per match has been a regular feature of every Pune FC-Sporting Club Goa encounter in the I-League. Both teams this season have only managed one clean-sheet apiece. Incidentally, Pune FC’s away match against Arrows holds this distinction.
A win will help Pune FC move back in contention within the top-5 of the league standings and close to the top-4 teams.