Pune FC hope to change opening day script

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 07, 2012 17:42 hrs
Pune FC hope to change opening day script

Pune FC aims at a winning start to shrug off past drawn-opening-game results at home when they play ONGC FC in I-League 2012-13, on Monday.

Three draws against East Bengal (2009-10), Mohun Bagan (2010-11) and Shillong Lajong FC (2011-12) is a run Pune FC Coach Derrick Pereira is well aware of and eager to change.

Pune FC Coach explained, "We've learnt from the past that we played our openers at home under pressure. But this time we are looking at enjoying the game to get a positive result."

In making his point, the Coach, who overlooked a late evening training session at the Balewadi Sports Complex, added, "With the privilege beginning once again in front of our home fans we will go for the kill. We are ready and confident."

While Pune FC is upbeat, the fact remains that Pune FC-ONGC encounters are always tight. Ever since Pune FC earned promotion, ONGC have been their rivals thrice - twice in the I-League and once in the Durand Cup, and only once has the hosts tilted a game in their favour.

Both Pune FC and ONGC go into the game overcoming Durand Cup disappointment and bouncing back in the Fed Cup respectively. While two draws put Pune FC out, a draw and a loss ended ONGC in the group stage of the Durand Cup.

However, the Fed Cup was different. Pune FC beat United Sikkim SC, drew with Prayag United and lost to Salgaocar SC, where as ONGC thrashed Kalighat MS, led East Bengal before a red-card dented them with a 1-2 loss, and then got back on track beating Sporting Clube Goa.

On the eve of the game, Pune FC Coach was of the opinion that the promoted ONGC, back after a one year absence, cannot be taken lightly.

"ONGC is a good side with some experienced players in their line-up. We played a practice match against them earlier in this season and quite know the team," the coach added. Pune FC had beaten ONGC in a friendly ahead while preparing for the Fed Cup.

The visitors have in their ranks ex-Pune FC defender Kamal Thapa marshalling their defence, apart from ex-India international and experienced Jatin Bisht in the midfield.

Japanese attacker Katsumi Yusa poses to be a threat in creating and scoring and so far has netted thrice and assisted a couple in the 10 ONGC have scored this season.

On the season so far, Pune FC coach said, "Despite dominating matches in the Durand Cup we could not convert them into wins. Later, in the Federation Cup we could not play to potential owing to the ground conditions. We matched every opponent all through, with the midfield working well with the strikers, but upfront we lacked finish."

Pune FC, since the Federation Cup campaign, are a changed side with South Sudan striker James Moga joining in and adding teeth upfront.

Coach Perreira pointed out, "The squad is an improved lot after Moga joined. Daisuke (Nishiguchi) and Douhou (Pierre) have got fitter despite joining the team late."

The hosts in fact added experienced wing-half Khanthang Paite, a former Churchill Brothers and East Bengal player, to their line up recently.

Pune FC go into the opening game missing the services of four players - goalkeeper Abhra Mondal, defender N. Mohanraj, midfielder Nikhil Kadam and Arta Izumi.

Abhra is still recovering from a broken shin sustained last year, while Mohanraj is slowly getting back from a back injury.

Newly-signed Academy player, Nikhil has a groin injury to deal with.

Likewise, Arata is recovering from a great toe contusion to the right foot he suffered during the Federation Cup against Salgaocar SC.

The meeting between Pune FC and ONGC will be the seventh overall. "We hope to walk out with an enjoyable match result," the coach added.

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