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I-League Round 13: Mumbai - Derby: Pune FC hope to snap draw spell

06.12.2013 : KFC. | www.kolkatafootball.com HOME PAGE

PFC PRESS RELEASE : Pune FC will be out to maintain their dominant reputation against arch-rivals Mumbai FC in the first 'Maha-Derby' of the season at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex, Mhalunge-Balewadi in Pune on Saturday. Unconquered in six matches played at the venue earlier, Pune FC seeks a change in form having drawn 3 consecutive games. However, for Pune FC to change the script much will depend on how they cope with Mumbai FC's new found winning rhythm after beating East Bengal.

Pune FC Coach, Mike Snoei, said: "I am looking forward to the derby against Mumbai FC. It will be a tough match and we will have to work hard against them." The Maha-Derby for both city-named squads has witnessed action of all sorts - from goals, to fights to sending offs - with the sole aim to attain numero uno status in Maharashtra. Add the huge home crowd support for Pune FC and the encounter is a not-to-miss one for a fan.

Bragging rights apart, a win for Pune FC (2nd, 19 pts) is crucial keeping in mind the challenging three-game away trip lined up in the I-League. Mumbai FC (9th, 11pts), on the other hand, has had a disappointing start to the season having logged only two wins so far, but ooze with confidence after the morale-boosting win in their last round.

Having made Pune their base for the past three seasons, Mumbai FC is accustomed to the playing conditions at Balewadi. In fact, the visitors have stayed on in the city preparing for the game. Mumbai FC's win over the Kolkata-giants was aided by the recent addition of 5 new faces to the squad. The Indian quartet of attackers Mohammed Rafi and N.P. Pradeep along with defenders Khelemba Meetei and Peter Costa bring more experience to the squad that already boasts of the experienced defender in Anwar Ali, medio Climax Lawrence and winger Nicholas Rodrigues.

Adding up to new signings is veteran Ghanaian striker Yusif Yakubu who spearheaded Mumbai FC's first home win in his first game this season. Yakubu, who netted with almost his first touch and later created the second, will pose a challenge to Pune FCs defensive duo of Anas Edathodika and Calum Angus.

Adds Coach, "Mumbai FC is now a better side with the addition of the new players and we saw the way they dominated the opponents. But we will be playing according to our plan." The remaining three foreign slots have been occupied by the Afghan trio of versatile defender Haroon Amiri, medio Ahmad Arash Hatifie and striker Sandjar Ahmadi. Ahmad, however will miss the game after picking up a red card in the previous match. Pune FC has a fully fit and available squad to choose from, something which should make Coach very satisfied.

Statistically, Pune FC has won the Derby three times at Balewadi while sharing points thrice. Interestingly, in the last three matches between the teams Pune FC has netted thrice. With the odds in Pune FC favour, the hosts also boast of a pre-season friendly win (3-0) over the rivals played in September at Balewadi.

In nine encounters overall, Pune FC has registered four wins compared to Mumbai FCs two. Pune FC's only loss in the top flight came way back in December 2010 at Kolhapur - Mumbai FC's first adopted home - while losing once in the Second Division earlier. For Pune FC, midfielders Arata Izumi, Shanmugam Venkatesh and defender Gurjinder Kumar have scored in the Maha-Derby in the past. However, no player from the visiting side has returned the favour.