Pune, May 9 (IANS) Pune FC will be keen to claim the bragging rights when they take on city rivals Bharat FC as an ‘away’ side in the season’s second Pune derby at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi on Sunday.
The rescheduled I-League Round 11 encounter carries a lot of significance for multiple reasons for both Pune teams. To begin with, either side will be hoping to get the first-ever derby win after their maiden clash ended in a 1-1 draw in April.
Secondly, the game will be the last time both sides play here before going on a three-match away sequence. Moreover, given the fact that both sides have struggled recently, a win will put them in a good position going into the next rounds which makes the three points on offer crucial.
Fifth placed Pune FC (23 points) will be fresh after a short two-week break which followed a hectic April. Having won two, drawn one and lost three of six games in April, Pune FC will be looking to improve their tally and make a move up in the standings in the final month of the season.
Meanwhile, a win will also be vital for Pune FC who look to rebuild confidence and come out of the recent slump after back-to-back home losses against Bengaluru FC and Mohun Bagan.
Pune FC assistant coach Gift Raikhan will be in-charge in the absence of coach Karim Bencherifa, who is on leave. Nonetheless, Pune FC will be keen to put on a good show.
“It’s an important game for both sides. We have been working hard during the break and hope to come up with a good performance against Bharat FC,” said Raikhan.
On the team news front, Pune FC has a few injuries to worry about but the final decision will be taken only on matchday. However, medio Dhanpal Ganesh will miss out as he serves a one-match suspension for receiving four yellow cards.
Tenth-placed Bharat FC (15) are the lowest goal-scorers in I-League, having scored just nine so far and are the only team to not have reached double figures. Nonetheless, they come here on the back of a 1-0 win over leaders Mohun Bagan at Balewadi midweek.
The hosts will be depending heavily on their overseas quartet of defender Omar Jarun, medio Robert Hassel, playmaker Romuald Boco and striker Kris Bright. Meanwhile, the likes of Dharmaraj Ravanan, Gouramangi Singh and Subash Singh will add to the experience.