Pune, January 28: Pune FC will be motivated to build on recent domint form when they face Shillong Lajong FC in their first home game of the new I–League season at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex here on Thursday.
Going into Round 3, Pune FC will be confident after a domint 3–1 win over defending champions Bengaluru FC in their own backyard in the previous round. Having played 16 games away from home since the start of the season in four different competitions, Pune FC will be excited to play at home.
The game tomorrow will be the second time both sides face off this season after their meeting in the Federation Cup opener exactly a month ago. Back then, Pune FC came from a goal down to beat Lajong 3–1 and will be hoping for a similar result this time around.
“It was a superb show from Pune FC with all the players giving an all–round performance on the field. Bengaluru FC is not an easy team to play especially in their home ground but we domited the game completely,” Pune FC coach Karim Bencherifa said.
“We are very excited to play our first home game in front of our supporters. The result in the previous game has boosted the team’s morale and we hope for a similar performance against Lajong at home.”
However, going by the past results, the job at hand won’t be easy given the fact that all four I–League games between the two sides at the Balewadi stadium so far have ended in draws. The last time both sides faced off here, Pune FC came from a goal down to equalise right at the death in a 2–2 draw. Nonetheless, Pune FC will be eager to break this deadlock and get a first home win over the Northeast side.
Pune FC will be boosted by the return of a few players from injury notably striker Prakash Thorat and skipper As Edathodika, although a decision on their availability will only be made on Thursday.
Nonetheless, new signings Darko Nikac and Edgar Marcelino have boosted the team’s morale, having settled in quickly and will play an important role on match day.
On the other hand, Lajong come into the game after a rrow 1–0 win over Mumbai FC which was a welcome change after suffering five consecutive losses since the start of the Federation Cup and the I–League.
The Thangboi Singto–led side will depend heavily on foreign strikers Cornell Glen and Uilliams Souza while newly signed medio Penn Orji will be their engine in the midfield.
Local Indians in skipper Aiborlang Khongjee, attacker Boithang Haokip and striker Semilen Doungal will add to the experience to the line–up.
Over the years, both sides have faced off 12 times in all competitions with seven drawn affairs. Having logged just two wins compared to Lajong’s three, Pune FC will be eager to set the record straight. Meanwhile, in eight I–League meetings so far, both sides have shared a win each. IANS