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ROUND - 20

I-league return derby : 20th round: mohun Bagan vs East Bengal at salt lake tomorrow.

Jaydip Dasgupta: The 9th of February 2013 - the football lovers of Kolkata will going to witness yet another royal battle between the duo giants of Indian football East Bengal and Mohun Bagan at the Vivekananda Yubabharati Krianangan.Trevor James Morgan is determined to win his first ever I league tittle though he is successful of winning the other tournaments. While Karim Bencharifa is set to save his team from relegation after AIFF had deducted 12 points from the mariners who at present are at the bottom of the I league table.............................. WHAT HAPPPEND in the 1st LEG? SEE once AGAIN here

East Bengal has the advantage of leading the poll of the I league with 39 points, but they are crippled with the upfront as Cheddi Edeh is yet to find out his sutiable partner.The performance of the Andrew Barichih is far beyond expectation. Barisik has scored against the Eastern Railway in the CFL but he has to prove himself in derby when his performance is required most by the red and gold.

WIN 3 : 3 LOST : DRAW - 2


WIN - 4, LOST- 4, DRAW - 0

KARIM in 2012-13 I-LEAGUE : 2nd time coaching in Mohun Bagan
WIN - 1, Drew 4, LOST 3

Robin Singh has frustrated his coach Morgan and Manandeep is out of the derby due to the unnecessary red card offense in the match against Pailan Arrows.In the midfield Morgan will have to depend on the brilliance of Mehtab Hossain and Penn Orji and it is likely that they will be supported by Isfaq and Khabra as the wing half's.

The main task of Mehtab is to lead the his team from the middle and to stop the attacks of mariners in the middle third.The red and gold deep defense so far is well organized and they are economical in conceding the goals. The deep defense is headed by Uga Opara, but the man who has made the difference in the deep defense is Arnab Mondal.

CHIDI SCORED - 14 goal with 1 hattrick against Salgaocar
ODAFA scored - 9 goals with 1 hattrick against Sporting Goa. TOLGEY will play first time tomorrw against East Bengal as a player of Mohun Bagan in I-League.

These two stopper backs are quite reliable so far but they should not offer any liberty to Odafa and Tolgey.The East Bengal coach Morgan,generally opts the 4-4-2 formation. Should he follow the same formation or he will adopt his plan "B",it has to be observed. In fact we have seen that East Bengal depends on their team game and plays a number of passes among themselves.

The mariners are facing a real tough assignment now. The AIFF decided to bring them back in the main course of the I league but they had to start from the beginning with 0 points. At present they stands on 5 points,but it will be a long way to save from the relegation.The wrong decision of the officials in team selection are now paying off.

In Bagan deep defense are yet to be combined well.The fitness level of the players are not in the desired level, though Karim claims that the fitness level of his players have increased. What will be Karim"s plan ? He has some specific cards in his hand and he will be keenly depend on the individual brilliance of Odafa Okilie and in form Tolgey Ozbey.

WIN - 5, LOST - 2, DRAW - 2

MORGAN in 2012-13 I-LEAGUE
WIN - 12, Drew 3, LOST 4

Tolgey after a long dilemma, signed for the mariners and he is once again successful in scoring goals in the last three matches. If the combination between these two works then it will be a happy ending for Bagan.In the last few matches it has been observed that the newly recruited midfielder Quinton Jacob has functioned successfully and helped the upfront with a number of good passes.

This Namibian midfielder may play a vital role in the Bagan"s middle third area.So Karim have to decide how he will utilize his foreigners - Iche in deep defense or Zacob in the midfield. But Karim"s most vital card will be Sayed Rahim Nabi. This all utility footballer will act as a pivot who will help in the attack as well in the deep defense in times of need.

Yubabharati Kriangan will be under the multifold security on Saturday afternoon.The Police along with the Private Securities, Bouncers will be deputed. The organizers have requested the spectators to enter the ground at least an hour before. Bottles, crackers, packets are strictly resisted. Anyone found guilty will be taken under the law. The police force (almost two thousand will be present to control the situation) are requested to react fast to cope any situation.


ROUND - 21
Pre-Match Report: Pune FC vs Shillong Lajong FC

23.03.2013: SLFC MEDIA::After a month long break, the I-League is back and an in form Pune FC side hosts North Easterners, Shillong Lajong FC which promises to be an exciting 21 st round I-League encounter to be held at the Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune on Sunday at 7PM.

Derrick Pereira's side is currently in the top four of the League table 2012-13 edition of the I-League with 33 points, while the Shillong outfit are in the 11 th position with 19 points from 20 games played so far.

Edinho who joined Lajong on a short team loan from Blackburn Rovers and has showed early signs of goal-scoring abilities (netting 4 in a friendly) will be playing his first game in the I-League.

The 18 year old Portuguese expressed his excitement and said, "I would rather see the team win than worry about getting a goal or not. I want to celebrate with all my team mates the collective success at the end of the season".

"People always have had big expectations from me but I don't feel any pressure because I love my job and work very hard every day to bring joy to people scoring goals. I love that pressure because I find it very positive."

Coach Thangboi Singto said," The break was utilised to treat and recuperate the injured players and also to maintain players" fitness and work on tactical aspects of the game.The addition of Edinho has brought more strength and has added that attacking spark to the team."

Thangboi Singto also expressed his thoughts about Pune FC and said that it is a very well organised and managed team ,who can win against any team in the I-League. "We respect the team and we are ready to give our best", he added.

The Reds who still have few injury concerns are looking forward for a good game tomorrow ,in what will be a Showdown of the Reds. The match will be live on Ten Action at 7PM.



East Bengal Club of Kolkata will start their final round campaign against Air India on Saturday afternoon at the Kalyani Municipal Stadium. At present the red and gold are placed in the second position of the league table with 40 points after 20 matches, as Churchill Brothers of Goa are leading the table 42 points n 19 matches.

The dream and target of Trevor James Morgan is to win the I-league tittle. He has won almost all the tournaments which East Bengal has participated in the past three years, so it is a must win situation for East Bengal now in order to win the tittle.

East Bengal had a series of win in their last few matches but unfortunately they had to face the defeat against the United Sports in the IFA Shield final on 20th March. Elco's boys stopped Morgan's unbeaten run after 15 matches.

Experts are in the opinion that the continuous matches in India and in abroad in the AFC cup matches for which the team had to travel extensively had made the players fatigue and exhausted. In fact this is the main problem East Bengal club is facing. East Bengal is still unbeaten to Air India in their last 5 I-League matches and also recorded the highest margin home win 6-1 in 2010-11 I-Lague.

On the other hand Air India are not in a satisfactory position in the I-league. If they unable to fulfill the AFC's club licensing formalities they will not be allowed to participate in the I League in future. Air India lost 0-3 to Churchill Brothers in their last match (Which was 12th Round's hold match).

It can be said that it will be a easy match for the red and gold but East Bengal should capilatise the created opportunities on one hand on the contrary the red and gold should increase the goals which may be required in the last laps of the snake and ladder game.

In another game of the day League topper Churchill Brothers will face ONGC. Churchill are top of the heap at the moment with 42 points from 19 matches, and have played a game less than second placed East Bengal who have 40 in their kitty from 20 matches.

Churchill TD Subhash Bhowmick told that "In 2002-03 season when I was with East Bengal, we were seven points clear at the top of the table. But eventually we lost the title. So nothing is guaranteed until you have crossed the final hurdle."

While their opponents Gant killer ONGC are sitting sixth in the table with 27 points from 20 outings, will be missing the services of midfielders Joel Sequeira, Sohrabuddin Mollick and defender Bimal Minj.


ROUND - 24


16.4.2013: GFA PRESS RELEASE :Churchill Brothers who are enjoying four points lead over East Bengal in their run chase for the title are now preparing themselves to extend the lead further when they take on out of form Dempo tomorrow in the 24th round of the I-League, played at Tilak Maidan Stadium, Vasco.

East Bengal dream to win the title have received a serve blow after they drew four matches in a row, thus giving Churchill Brothers a boost to extend the lead further who at present are at the top with 47 points from 22 matches, a match less than East Bengal who are four points behind them.

Churchill Brothers who need six points to win the title for the second time from their four matches remaining, a win tomorrow will not only bring the Red Machine closer to win the title but keep themselves in positive frame of mind when they meet Mohun Bagan in their away match next to go all out and win the title.

Churchill Brothers Technical Director Subhas Bhowmick knows the tough challenges in both the matches but is convinced that his team will over come it and not miss the opportunity to win the title. "My boys are working hard in the last few days at Varca ground to get into shape for the crucial clash against the defending champions Dempo who are struggling to find form. I warned them not to remain complacent but to remain focus till the end if we are to achive of winning the title for the second time," stated Bhowmick.

On the other hands, controversy and injuries have taken a heavy toll on Dempo who have lost four matches at a trot are out of the contest in defending the title are now placed fifth with 35 points from 23 matches. Maurico Afonso who is looking after the team in the absence of their regular coach Armando Colaco who is not well has been training the boys at Miramar beach to put them back into the winning way.

Defenders Sameer Naik and Debrata Roy back from injuries, Dempo defence will look more stable. The boys are working hard to win the remaining three matches and finish among the top fours," stated Afonso.




The red and gold brigade after a successful mission in the AFC Cup Group league stages are now preparing themselves for the remaining matches of the I-league. East Bengal will meet the defending champions Dempo Sports Club at Goa and against the United Sikkim and Shillong Lazong FC at the Yubabharati Kriangan in Kolkata.

The dream of Trevor James Morgan of winning the I-league are in vain now. If some miraculous incidents happen then the story of this year's league may change. Churchill Brothers of Goa had taken a formidable lead and they are at 52 points now. Pune FC who are holding the second position are with 51 points in their account. The red and gold brigade holding the third position are at 43 points in their kitty.

Trevor Morgan emphasized strongly to his boys that they had to earn the maximum points from their remaining matches during the practice session at the Duler Stadium in Goa. In fact East Bengal should have to win all the three remaining matches and increase the goal margin in order to ranked second in this year's I-league.

The match will be kicked off at 6.30 pm which is a blessing for both the teams. The players will be playing in a pleasant condition rather than in the hot and humid condition and under the scorching sunlight. Dempo Sports Club are having an unimpressive performance in the I league. They are at present ranked 5th with 36 points to their credit.

The injury of the important players and the lack of good foreigners had created a lot of problem for Dempo in the important matches. Trevor Morgan will miss the services of Hormonjot Khabra and Abhijit Mondal but he has got all his solders ready and it is likely that he will start in a 4-5-1 combination with Cheddi Eddeh solely in the up front.

East Bengal are having an impressive results against this Goan team.Earlier this season the red and gold crowned the Federation Cup at Siliguri by defeating Dempo 3-2. In the first leg match at Kolkata these two reams ended in a 1-1 draw. The penalty goal of Cheddi Eddeh was equalized by Peter Carvalo at the flag end of the encounter.

It must be mentioned that East Bengal should capitalize the situation in order to advance further at the final stages of the I-league. If the red and gold can utilize the scoring opportunities at least by 20 percent in their earlier matches then the story of the league would have been a different.

PREVIEW: ROUND 25: Mohun Bagan to face Churchill Brothers tomorrow at Kalyaniw

AIFF MEDA RELEASE : Current leaders Churchill Brothers find a resurgent Mohun Bagan on their way to title pursuit. The Kolkata giant, fighting relegation, will be challenging the aspiring titlists in the 25th round of the I-League, in Kalyani Stadium, on Sunday (April 21).

"This match is very crucial for us. We have to keep the winning momentum to ensure more points and our survival in the tournament," Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa said ahead of his team's meeting with the Goa giants. Mohun Bagan have won four and drawn one in their last five appearances making them one of the best performers during this period.

"A win tomorrow will be a big step towards ensuring our ejection from the relegation zone," Karim said looking at Mohun Bagan's position in the league standings. Mohun Bagan are currently placed 12th with 22 points from 21 matches.

"We will be missing defender Celestine Anyichie because of suspension. We play as a team and will find the right replacement. We hope to put up a good performance as there are no major injury worries," Karim said. "Churchill Brothers have a good lead and enjoy a good chance of winning the title. We have to stick to our objective and play our own game to keep our successful form intact," Karim added.

"Their strikers Tolgay (Ozbey) and (Onyeka Okolie) Odafa are in good form and that has helped the team do well in the last few rounds. So the pressure will be on us as we have to maintain the top position in the league table and get closer to title," said the Churchill Brothers technical director Subhash Bhowmick.

Churchill Brothers have arrived without the injured Bikramjit Singh and Tomba Singh while their Brazilian play-maker Roberto Mendes Silva (Beto) is also recovering from an injury.

"We will take a call on Beto tomorrow before the match. The rest of the team is fine and we will play for full points to better the chances of winning the title," Bhowmick said. Churchill are on top with 48 points from 23 matches.

PREVIEW: ROUND 25: United SC to face Shillong Lajong at home tomorrow

SLFC PRESS RELEASE : One of Indian football biggest spenders, Prayag United will host Shillong Lajong FC at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday, in what will be the 25th Round of the I-league. This will also be Lajong's penultimate game of the season, and the Reds will take nothing less than a win against a side which they beat 3-2 at Shillong, in a pulsating encounter.

The Reds are coming into the match after a morale boosting 2-0 win against Mumbai FC, and will seek to carry their good form to Kolkata as well, having fared quite well against the top three Kolkatan sides (unbeatable against Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Prayag United thus far).

Prayag United will be quite upbeat about their form too, having thumped Pailan Arrows by 4 goals, and it will surely make for an interesting and even encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium.

Shillong Lajong Coach Thangboi Singto said,"It is a crucial game and it is very important to get 3 points. We need to go with the right approach and give a good performance. It is a must win game tomorrow. The best line-up will take the field."

Head To Head

04-Nov-2012 : Shillong Lajong FC 3-2 Prayag United S.C.
15-Apr-2012 : Shillong Lajong FC 3-5 Prayag United S.C.
21-Dec-2011 : Prayag United S.C. 1-1 Shillong Lajong FC
28-Apr-2010 : Shillong Lajong FC 1-1 Prayag United S.C.
02-Feb-2010 : Prayag United S.C. 2-0 Shillong Lajong FC


PFC PRESS RELEASE: 27.04.2013 : Confident Pune FC raring to go at Air-India.

Pune FC will bank on their winning run and hope to extend their form against Air-India in an I-League Round 6 rescheduled encounter at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Pune, on Sunday.

With the title not yet decided, Pune FC has an eye on going six points clear of third placed East Bengal. Currently, Pune FC has 46 points from 25 games and any gain on the morrow will help in logging their best points tally ever and surpass the last year's effort.

The face-off between the two teams is the second time in a span of eight days at the same venue. A week earlier, Pune FC thrashed the Airmen 6-0 to register their biggest ever win in an afternoon kick off. A similar feat is expected as Pune FC is eager to exploit cooler conditions in their 'home' game under lights.

Pune FC's primary objective is to not compromise in putting out their best. This in turn will keep leaders Churchill Brothers (51 points) under pressure until the end. In fact, ever since the loss to Churchill Brothers in Goa, Pune has been on the right track with three consecutive away wins over ONGC FC (1-0 at Delhi), Air India (6-0 at Pune) and Mohun Bagan AC (3-1 at Kalyani).

Coach Derrick Pereira adds, "It's the penultimate last match and basically a new game to start afresh. The players are confident and to achieve we need to mentally and physically ready… the last match (V/s Bagan) proved that. I am confident they (players) will do well."

However, the humiliation that Pune FC inflicted over Air-India the last time is something the hosts need to keep a check on with the possibility of an all out effort to get not a possibility to be ruled out. Moreover with relegation looming large over Air India the need to play for pride is also something the Mumbai-based side is expected to play for.

Air India overall has a plethora of problems and includes their own form under new Coach Naushad Moosa. While Air India goes into the game having a long break, the hosts played Mohun Bagan midweek in another rescheduled match resulting in a win and boosted confidence sky high.

The encounter is the penultimate game for both teams, each in their individual quests; hence a positive result is hugely vital for both. Pune FC who returns to home action exactly a month after beating Dempo SC 2-0, would want to maintain their tradition of having won every penultimate game of the three I-League seasons thus far.

With Pune FC playing the final two games at home for the first time in four years, wins in both will be the objective in order to also enhance home record. Over the past three games, Pune FC has had six different scorers with striker James Moga in top-form scoring in every game and a total of four goals. Playmaker Douhou Pierre follows with a couple strikes, which adds up to advantage in their quest to impress the home fans.

Air India will be boosted by the return of first-choice keeper Bubai Singh whose absence was felt last week, but their main area of concern is their back-line. So far, Air India has conceded 56 goals, more than any team. Furthermore the suspension of experienced defender Prem Kumar, who picked up his fourth yellow card last week, adds to their woes.

Pune FC on the other hand has no suspensions or injuries to worry about and will go into the game with a full strength squad to choose from. The squad, however, has made three changes to the 18-member team.

In goal Shahinlal Meloly comes in place of Abhra Mondal, midfielder Nilhil Kadam (for Srikanth Ramu) and Lalrempuia (for Sukhwinder Singh). This is the 12th meeting between both sides. In I-League, Pune FC stand tall with 3 wins from the seven games played apart from being involved in 2 draws.

23.04.2013: PREVIEW : Pune FC has reason to charge at Mohun Bagan tomorrow

PFC PRESS RELEASE : Pune FC has a lot at stake when they take on Mohun Bagan in an I-League (Round-16) away encounter at the Kalyani Stadium, on Thursday. Keen to gain maximum, Pune FC have two reasons to go out and extend their winning run. First up is the theoretical fact that the title is yet to be decided. Churchill Brothers still need of 2 points from 2 games to top, which gives Pune FC a chance.

The other is the realistic aspect of playing for the second spot in order to finish with the highest-ever achievement. Pune FC's rival for this club-high is second placed East Bengal, who play their rounds after Pune FC gets the first shot at setting the pace.

Pune FC Coach Derrick Pereira said, "Although we had two good matches successively, Bagan are tougher opposition. It's now that we need to step up mentally as well as physically. We need to be better in order to continue our form." However, in order for Pune FC to push both reasons, consistent wins over the next three games, including Bagan is necessary.

Apart from league positions, Pune FC look to exact revenge on two counts – last season's (2011-12) away game loss dashed third position hopes and the IFA Shield (0-3) loss earlier this year. With the game on the morrow of vital importance, Pune FC hope to extract confidence from the fact they have been the best travelers this season picking up the most wins (9) and points (27) than any other team.

Pune FC coach added, "After our loss to Churchill Brothers, I felt and prepared myself to set a target of winning all the remaining games and hope. The players were game too for this. However, Bagan's loss to Churchill Brothers made it tougher… now we look for a win to be realistic of achieving the best position."

Bagan themselves have their own targets and is certain to be tough opponents. Set with a mission of driving up the table to the maximum, Bagan, until the last round loss (v Churchill Brothers) had an impressive run. From bottom-most (owing to AIFF sanctions following the Kolkata Derby fiasco) to beyond the relegation zone in a span of 12 games makes up evidence enough.

Eight of those I-League games were at Kalyani, where Bagan have picked up 5 wins and 2 draws and scored 18 times. The order might seems tall, but Pune FC will look up to their current two-match winning form (includes scoring 7 goals in 2 clean sheet games) and try to exploit the opponents who have had let ups in defence and conceded 8 times. In fact, Bagan, under new coach Karim Bencharifa, has just 2 clean-sheets.

Moreover the fixture pile-up for the home side, fatigue factor of key players is ample reason Pune FC hope to explore. Add over-dependency on Odafa Okolie (16) and Tolgay Ozbey (9) for goals upfront can work to advantage if worked out by strategy.

On the squad news front, Pune FC, welcomes back Nigerian defender Chika Wali (suspended in last match), while winger Karma Tsewang is back to full-fitness and has traveled as part of the 19-member playing squad to Kalyani. Likewise, the changes in squad of the last match are; Abhra Mondal (for Shahinlal Meloly), Srikant Ramu (for Caitano Costa), Karma (Subash Singh), Sukhwinder Singh (Nikhil Kadam).

Bagan, likewise, has a full squad to chose from. Nigerian defender Eche is back from the one-match suspension, which probably will force Namibian Quinton drop to the bench. But with the likes of Jewel Raja and Snehasis Chakraborty, Bagan have enough options for them to supplement their 3-man midfield marshalled by Denson Devdas and Manish Maithani, who look to supply Odafa, Tolgay and their third attacker up-front.

The clash between the two sides is the tenth time ever and the eighth in I-League. The head to head, however, tilts Bagan's way. So far, Pune FC has won one match (in Pune) and Bagan 4. Interestingly, Pune FC will also be out to seek their first win over Bagan in Kolkata having visited the city five times before.

Encounters in the past have been tough, barring the last one in IFA Shield, with Pune FC having Arata Izumi (2), Douhou Pierre, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Chika Wali score in in the past. Bagan in the same fixture has had Odafa (5), Sabeeth (2) and Snehasis (1) log goals against Pune FC.

With the encounter having enough for both teams to achieve, Pune FC will be eager to sign off their final road-trip with the reputation they’ve earned this season. Moreover, full points shall also set a few records straight for Pune FC.


Mohun Bagan to face 1st leg due match against Churchill tomorrow at Kalyani.
AIFF MEDIA RELEASE: Current leaders Churchill Brothers find a resurgent Mohun Bagan on their way to title pursuit. The Kolkata giant, fighting relegation, will be challenging the aspiring titlists in the 25th round of the I-League, in Kalyani Stadium, on Sunday (April 21).

"This match is very crucial for us. We have to keep the winning momentum to ensure more points and our survival in the tournament," Mohun Bagan coach Karim Bencherifa said ahead of his team’s meeting with the Goa giants. Mohun Bagan have won four and drawn one in their last five appearances making them one of the best performers during this period.

"A win tomorrow will be a big step towards ensuring our ejection from the relegation zone," Karim said looking at Mohun Bagan's position in the league standings. Mohun Bagan are currently placed 12th with 22 points from 21 matches.

"We will be missing defender Celestine Anyichie because of suspension. We play as a team and will find the right replacement. We hope to put up a good performance as there are no major injury worries," Karim said. "Churchill Brothers have a good lead and enjoy a good chance of winning the title. We have to stick to our objective and play our own game to keep our successful form intact," Karim added.

"Their strikers Tolgay (Ozbey) and (Onyeka Okolie) Odafa are in good form and that has helped the team do well in the last few rounds. So the pressure will be on us as we have to maintain the top position in the league table and get closer to title," said the Churchill Brothers technical director Subhash Bhowmick.

Churchill Brothers have arrived without the injured Bikramjit Singh and Tomba Singh while their Brazilian play-maker Roberto Mendes Silva (Beto) is also recovering from an injury.

"We will take a call on Beto tomorrow before the match. The rest of the team is fine and we will play for full points to better the chances of winning the title," Bhowmick said. Churchill are on top with 48 points from 23 matches.

19.04.2013: PFC PRESS RELEASE: Pune FC focus on points ahead of Air-India game

Pune FC believes there still remains a chance to push up further in the I-League table. And hence, on the eve of their Round 25 away game against Air-India, talk revolved on staying positive and achieve maximum at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex.

Saturday's game, incidentally the first meeting between the state neighbors this season, is thus important for Pune FC purely to bridge the gap.

Currently in third place (40 points), Pune FC trail East Bengal by 3 points and leaders Churchill Brothers by 8 points and hope not to slip-up in the race for a best rank. For the record, Pune FC, who will be playing their 23rd match, holds a one-match advantage over the Kolkata and Goan sides

Rivals Air-India is certain to be no pushovers for Pune FC on the morrow. With relegation looming large, apart from their future existence in the I-League in doubt, the Mumbai side will be out to hold their heads high. With the odds stacked against Air-India, Pune FC will be looking at capatalising on the situation.

Pune FC Coach, Derrick Pereira says, We are looking at 3 points and consolidate our position and put pressure on the Top-2 teams… I am hoping for a miracle in the final run as well. In the situation we are in there is only one option and that is play to win and leave all other possibilities to take its own course,” Pune FC coach adds.

Air-India, under new coach Naushad Moosa, of late has adapted to playing with a totally different style. Pune FC Coach observes, "Since the arrival of their new coach, Air-India has played with a marked difference… more fluid."

The Mumbai-side, however, remain winless in the 6 games played under the new coach. Making matters worse, Air-India's defence has leaked 17 goals and have managed to score just 5, which hands Pune FC reason to explore and make use in their quest.

Another worrying factor has been Air-India picking up 3 red cards in their last 3 games in which they've conceded 11 goals! Pune FC Coach adds,"Yes we are playing them for the first time this season and will need to stick to our style of play. There is no way that we can underestimate them." With only one clean sheet overall and having conceded 50 goals this season, Air-India stay above bottom-dwelling United Sikkim FC by 4 points.

In contrast is Air-India's attack with the lively Henry Ezeh, leading the front with 9 goals. He is supported by the wily Nigerian Elijah Obagmiro Junior (4) and local-boy Prakash Thorat (3). A goal threat is also ever present from their midfielders, with regulars Micky Fernandes, Souvik Chakraborty, Pradeep Mohanraj and Vijith Shetty having netted twice each.

On the team front, goalkeeper Bubai Singh misses the game after being red-carded in their previous game. Bubai's place will thus be taken by experienced Sukhwinder Singh. Air-India, who use Balewadi as their temporary 'home', have picked up only 11 points in their 12 games at the venue. At the same time, Pune FC have only picked up 19 points in their 12 games played in Pune and look to re-establish their dominance in their home fort come these last few games of the season.

Pune FC, fresh from getting back to winning ways against ONGC, will hope that the run extends at home, including two more games (Air-India, Pailan Arrows) over the next three weeks. Ahead of the face-off, Pune FC has an injury worry, with winger Tsewang Karma ruled out. Karma picked up an ankle injury in the last match at New Delhi.

On the other hand, central defender Chika Wali serves a one-match suspension having picked up his 4th yellow card in Round 24. Left wing back Gurjinder Kumar is back in the side after recovering from a groin sprain. The other changes to the squad will be the inclusion of Caitano Costa, Khantang Paite and Subash Singh.

Over the last couple seasons Pune FC have had a good record against Air-India. Unbeaten in 6, with 4 wins and 2 draws with wins in the corresponding nominal home encounters in the league at Balewadi. Although it wasn't always easy for Pune FC against the Airmen in their season debut season, when Air-India had won 3 out of the 4 games played.

19.04.2013: DSA PRESS RELEASE: ONGC hopes to end their last I-league home match at the Ambedkar stadium against Mumbai FC.

ONGC hopes to end their last I-league home match at the Ambedkar stadium on Saturday April 20 against Mumbai FC on a winning note. Both teams are on 30 points and it is a battle for middle of the table respectability. In fact Salgaocar, ONGC and Mumbai FC are all tied on 30 points with two matches to go and a close contest is expected to see which team finishes in the top half of the I-League table.

When he took over the team in December 2012, ONGC's coach Santosh Kashyap had said that his ambition was to take them team out of the relegation zone and help them finish in the top half of the table. He has achieved this feat. However if ONGC beat Mumbai FC, they can finish amongst the top six, which will be a creditable achievement.

Kashyap is worried that he will have to play a makeshift defence, as except for Hassan Adeola and Waleed all his regular defenders are injured. Robin Guring recovered from flu but got injured in practise. Joel Sequeira and Bimal Minz are still not match fit. A further blow is the unavailability of burly Sandeep sanga because of an ankle injury.

Lethal striker Eric P. Brown has received four yellow cards and is thus not eligible to play this match. Recent Nigerian recruit Muritala Ali may be tried in his place. ONGC will rely heavily on dynamic Yusa Katsumi to create chances and even score goals.

Mumbai FC, coached by former international Khalid Jameel, are quick on the counter attack. Their attacking midfielder Gabriel Fernandez is one of the finds of the season and excels in creating attacks. If Gabriel clicks ONGC's makeshift defence will have a torrid time in curbing Mumbai FC, which relies on goals from veteran Yusif Yakubu and Nigerian striker ND Opara. Their recruit from Afghanistan Haroon Fakhruddin Amiri has also impressed. Ex-International Abhishek Yadav is useful in scoring goals from set-pieces and uses his height effectively in defence.

A thrilling match is expected with lots of goals. The match will kick off at the Ambedkar stadium at 4p.m.


ROUND - 26

11.05.2013: 26th Round: Match Preview: East Bengal vs Shillong Lajong FC

East Bengal will play host to Shillong Lajong FC in the 26th round of the I-League encounter, in what will be the last game of the season and the Reds will look to secure all three points against an in form Kolkata side on Sunday at the Kalyani Stadium at 3.30 PM.

The North Easterners are at the 11th position with 25 points while their contenders who have been on a good run, following their AFC campaign are in the 3rd position with 47 points.

In the last 5 matches East Bengal have won twice and drew three times while Lajong comes into this match with one win, one loss and three draws in their last five games.

In the last game of the season, the players will look to give all out in tomorrow's game and end the season on a good note thereby bringing back home all the three points which will be out for grabs tomorrow.

Coach Thangboi Singto commented, "We hope to end the season on a high note by getting a good result tomorrow."The plan is to play the best team possible", he concluded.

East Bengal will look to finish top two this season provided that Pune FC lose or draw against the AIFF developmental side Pailan Arrows.

On the other hand, Shillong Lajong will have to register a win against the Kolkata outfit in order to finish the I-League campaign on 10th place if Mohun Bagan falls short against Nathan Hall's side on Sunday.

Total Matches - 5
East Bengal Won - 2
Shillong Lajong Won - 2
Drawn - 1

Pune FC geared up for 2nd place finish; play Arrows in must-win game

PFC PRESS RELEASE : 10.05.2013 : Pune FC has an eye set on finishing second, the next best position at stake in the 2012-13 I-League after the champions were decided a round earlier. While a runner-up spot will be first by Pune FC, the aim ahead of Round-26 against Pailan Arrows is to win and live the dream in front of their own fans at Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex. Irrespective of the result, Pune FC (49 points) is assured third place. However, Coach Derrick Perreira is in no mood of compromise and is well aware East Bengal (47 points) can leap-frog in case of dropped points. Pune FC Coach says; “The game is important like any other game. We are in with an excellent chance to finish with our best. The players are ready and realize what is expected of them."

Victory on the morrow will add up several other achievements. Apart from achieving a best-ever season, Pune FC stand a chance of ending with highest wins (15 already, currently tied with Churchill Brothers) and similarly top the scoring charts. Pune FC (51 goals) trail Churchill (53) and Prayag United SC (52).

With a host of stats waiting to be rewritten, includes making it to 'Club-50 Points', Pune FC will hope that their 4-match winning run so far extends one last time. Arrows go into the game as they always do without pressure for a result and nothing to lose and pose no easy customers on a given day.

'Arrows are a young, energetic and fighting side. We will need to keep a check of that, stick to our plans and force the result we want to complete our season on a high,” "added the Pune FC coach. Earlier in the season, it was Pune FC who had ended Arrows' 9-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, with a 2-0 win in Kolkata. Following that, in 23 games in all competitions, they have only managed 4 wins and 3 draws and suffered 16 losses.

Arrows, currently above the relegation in 12th, however have troubles the rival defence having scored 10 goals in their last 12 league games. Holicharan Narzary and Milan Singh (5 each) lead the goal scoring charts and goal-threats are present from all over with the likes of Indian National team attacker George Alwyn, Len Doungel and wingers Shaijumon and Tirthankar doing well.

Arrows will have a host of absentees amongst their regulars. Begins with on-loan Pune FC Midfielder D Ganeshan ineligible to play and centre-back Deepak Devrani (injury). Pritam Kotal and Prabir Das will help shore up the defence lead by Indian international Shouvik Ghosh. Ex-Pune FC custodian Soram Poirei, who incidentally made his league debut with Pune FC in the last home match of the 2010-11 season, returns as the established No 1 goalkeeper for the visitors.

Pune FC would nonetheless be keen to take advantage of the relatively inexperienced Arrows back-line. Exposing Arrows is the fact that they have conceded goals in all but 3 matches of the 23 played ever since the two teams met in the first leg back in November. Adding confidence is Pune FC’s strike prowess upfront which reads: 22 goals in the last last 8 I-League games, including 13 in the last 3!

Adding up to advantage is the unbeaten record Pune FC boasts. In 6 encounters, the count reads 3 wins and 3 draws and includes two wins in the two fixtures played at Balewadi. Coach Derrick kept his cards close to the chest and is expected to have the same 18-named for the game. With a full injury-free squad to choose from options are aplenty ahead of this must-win game.

Can chuirchill Brothers make their 2nd I-League crown tomorrow as well as Subhash Bhowmick's 3rd Crown as a Coach??

06.05.2013 : JAYDIP DASGUPTA : Can Goa prove his dominance in Indian football once again in this year's I league?? This would be the sixth time in a row and eight time in all that Goan club will be crowned with the most prestigious tournament of the sub continent - I league. Churchill Brothers are now preparing to celebrate the honor as they required a draw olny against Mohun Bagan to get 1 point on Tuesday evening. If it will happen then it would be their 2nd crown of I-League winning after 2008-09.

Mohun Bagan after saving the relegation in the last week with meet Churchill Brothers in order to consolidate further in the I league. But it may be mentioned the if the mariners won the match at tomorrow evening then Churchill have to fetch a point in their last match. Mohun Bagan lost 0-2 at home match agaist Churchill Brothers in the league.

It's the team effort which made this Goan team to climb the ladder under the Marshall Subash Bhowmick. Subash who is one of the most experienced coach in Indian circuit was responsible for winning different tournaments in India and abroad for Kolkata clubs are in verge of a history.

He was successful twice in winning the I-league for East Bengal and now a chance has came in front of him to win for the Goan team Churchill Brothers. This year he has proved his sense of football and match strategies when he guided Churchill to became the number one club in India.

In fact it was observed that Churchill has played as a team along with the individual brilliance of some footballers. The Indian captain and the Churchill striker while talking to the media said the the team effort had made their dream came true. He added that Bhowmick had guided the team to strengthen the team effort.

The target of Churchill is to earn full points against Mohun Bagan and not to play for a point. They wants to complete the task of winning the I-league only on Tuesday night at their home ground.Bhowmick has urged to his footballers to play in free mind and not get tensed unnecessary. So, the football fanatics will be keen to know that if Bagan can restrict this Goan team on tomorrow evening or Churchill will be flying colors after reaching their goal.