New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) In the current calendar year, ONGC remain unbeaten in their home matches at the Ambedkar Stadium. They have scalped United Sikkim FC, East Bengal, and Salgaocar and drawn with league leaders Churchill Brothers and Santosh Kashyap's team will try and extend the streak when they meet fancied Pune FC Sunday.
It will not be an easy task as Pune FC is on 37 points from just 21 matches and well on its way to fulfilling its ambition of finishing in the top three in the I-League. ONGC is seventh with 30 points from 23 matches. A win could see them leapfrog Mumbai FC to sixth.
ONGC's rapid rise is entirely due to the astute coaching of Kashyap. When he took over, ONGC was at the bottom of the table with seven points from 11 matches. In the next 12 matches ONGC have acquired 23 points and are aiming for a top six finish.
Playing 3-5-2, ONGC's success is due to their revamped, organised defence, in which Nigerian central defender Hassan Mohammed Adeola is combining well with Robin Gurung and skipper Sandeep Sangha. Newcomer Wassem is also playing competently and short-statured Sachin Gawas is effective in defence.
ONGC makes swift counter attacks but scoring goals is a problem as they lack a lethal striker. For goals they rely heavily on foreign recruits Yusa Katsumi (Japan) and Eric P. Brown (Liberia).
In contrast, Pune FC have two in-form strikers in James Moga (South Sudan) and the recently recruited Libyan-Australian Boimah Karpeh. Recently capped by India, central midfielder Izumi Arata along with Sukhwinder Singh will orchestrate Pune FC's attacks.
Due to the extreme heat in the capital, both teams may not go all out. So a closely fought battle of attrition is expected with both teams relying on quick counter-attacks and set pieces for goals.