Pune FC will be aiming for their first win in the I-League when they face defending champions Bengaluru FC in a round 2 encounter at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.
With both sides drawing their opening games, the clash will be a crucial one for both as a win will help in making the move up the table. The game will also be the second competitive clash between the two sides this season. They faced off in the Federation Cup group stage three weeks ago. Back then, Pune FC had lost (1-2) and they will be itching to set the record straight.
Speaking after a training session at the Kanteerava Stadium on Friday, Pune FC head coach Karim) Bencherifa said, “Every time we have faced Bengaluru FC this season, it has been a tough game. We definitely deserved more in the Federation Cup. We are looking forward to this game at their home ground.”
Pune FC come into the game after putting up a dominant performance in a 1-1 draw against Salgaocar FC last week. Despite dropping two points against the Goans, Pune FC will be optimistic against the defending champions as they begin a hectic schedule playing three matches in next nine days.
Having arrived at the garden city on Wednesday, Pune FC have completed a couple of training sessions and will be raring to go on matchday. “The most important thing is to get back to Pune with three points and that’s what our target is,” added coach Bencherifa.
The eighteen-man squad consists of all players who were part of the first game against Salgaocar while key players Anas Edathodika, Prakash Thorat, Lalrempuia Fanai and Bineesh Balan are still out due to injuries. Pune FC, however, have been boosted with the arrival of Portuguese midfielder Edgar Marcelino who landed in Bengaluru on Thursday and have completed two training sessions with the team.
Edgar’s arrival completes Pune FC’s overseas line-up giving Bencherifa valuable options ahead of the game. Having settled in, another new signing Darko Nikac will be in line for his first big game after a brief cameo against Salgaocar FC last week.
Bengaluru FC come into the game after a goalless draw against Dempo SC on the opening day. They will play with a full-strength side. The hosts will depend heavily on the foreign defenders John Johnson and Curtis Osano along with striker Sean Rooney. Meanwhile, Joshua Walker who missed out on the previous game against Dempo might play tomorrow.
Up front, Bengaluru FC’s skipper Sunil Chhetri and Robin Singh will provide a challenge to the Pune FC backline marshalled by experienced defender Luciano Sabrosa.
Having faced off three times so far, Pune FC and Bengaluru FC share an equal record with a win each. However, Pune FC has the upper hand in the clashes in I-League with a win and a draw in two games and will be keen to maintain their unbeaten record.