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I-League: Pune FC to face Shillong Lajong

07.03.2014 : KFC. | HOME PAGE

PFC PRESS RELEASE : Pune FC will hope to make the most of their dominant form at home when they host Shillong Lajong FC in an I-League Round 20 encounter at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Saturday.

The game is crucial for second-placed Pune FC (29 pts) who will be heading into a tough four-match away sequence in two different competitions. A win against Lajong will not only help the team ahead of their back-to-back away games in the AFC Cup, but also give a push to their domestic league campaign which enters its final stages.

Moreover, a winless run against the north-east side at home is something Pune FC will be keen to end. Both teams have met thrice in Pune in the top-flight and played out a draw each time. Back in 2009-10, the Lajong team coached by Stanley Rozario held Pune FC to a 1-1 draw, while the league opener in 2011-12 against the Pradhyum Reddy coached Lajong ended goalless. In the 2012-13 season, Thangboi Singto-led Lajong side held Pune FC to a 2-2 draw.

Currently playing their third consecutive away match after the midseason break, Lajong have failed to log a league-win in 2014 and go into the match after a 1-3 loss to Salgaocar FC in Goa. However, the visitors have been consistent throughout the campaign occupy fifth place in the league table with 24 points. With preparations for the big game on the back of their mind, Lajong arrived in Pune with a full strength squad four days before the game have been acclimatising to the conditions.

The Thangboi Singto-led side will rely heavily on the attacking-duo of Trinidad and Tobago World-Cupper Cornell Glenn (8 goals) and the Brazillian Uilliams Souza (4 goals). Between them, the strike-pair has contributed 12 goals out of Lajong's 23 in the league and will pose a challenge for the Pune FC defense led by Calum Angus. Assisting them from the midfield is Boithang Haokip who has chipped in with four important goals.

The visitors' other two overseas players include Japanese medio Taisuke Matsugae and skipper North Korean defender Minchol Son who form the central line along with the strikers up front. Backed by experienced Indian players like Wailadmi Passah, Robin Gurung, Lalramluaha Hmar, Durga Boro and Seikhohao Tuboi, Lajong will pose a challenge to the hosts.

Speaking on the sidelines of a training session at the Balewadi Stadium, Pune FC Coach Mike Snoei said, "The result (in the last match against Mumbai FC) was not as we expected. The draw prevented us from closing in on the leaders." Talking about rivals Lajong, he further added, "Lajong have a good set of foreigners and Indian players and are placed behind us on the league table. They are a good team and it will not be easy for us."

On the team news front, new signing Mirjan Pavlovic will be in line to make his first start. The Australian striker has been training with the team for the past week and will be raring to go after his cameo against Mumbai FC last week.

Over the years both sides have met ten times and Lajong have the upper hand with three wins compared to Pune FC's one. Moreover with all three meetings in Pune ending in draws, a win will be of utmost importance for Pune FC as they hope to improve their record against the north-easterners.

League Leaders Clash With Reigning Champions Churchill In Key Home Clash

07.03.2014 : KFC. | HOME PAGE

BFC PRESS RELEASE : League-leaders Bengaluru FC take on Federation Cup champions Churchill Brothers in what promises to be an entertaining, penultimate home game for the Blues at the Bangalore Football Stadium, in Bangalore, on Saturday.

With the League on the home stretch of the season, Bengaluru FC have a slender two-point lead over Pune FC while Sporting Clube de Goa, who are three points behind, still have a game in hand, leaving Ashley Westwood's team with little room to falter.

Bengaluru missed out on the chance to consolidate their lead at the top when, after a brilliant second-half fight, they went down 3-2 to bottom-placed Rangdajied United in Shillong last week. But Westwood isn't pressing the panic button. "This has, by far, been the most competitive season of the I-League ever and there's no guarantee of any result. There have been ups and down and the trend will continue. On current form Churchill Brothers aren't a side battling relegation and it's going to be a good game," said Westwood.

The Goan club, who were champions last year, have had a rough ride, battling relegation for most part of the season. However, their Federation Cup triumph in Kerala in January has sparked a turnaround and the Mariano Dias-coached team has a nice, little unbeaten run stretching to four games. The soft-spoken Dias is well aware of the mountain his team has to climb but is confident of using the momentum his team has built, to get a result in Bangalore. "We still have eight games left and we are certain we will climb up the table. Bengaluru FC are a strong side who play attacking football and it will be a tough game for us. Also, they have an impressive record at home," he said.

Churchill will be without regular 'keeper Lalit Thapa who didn't participate in training on match eve while midfielder Lenny Rodrigues, nursing a sore knee, should make the team. Costa Rican striker Christian Lagos hasn't made the trip to Bangalore owing to family issues. Bengaluru, on the other hand, have a completely fit squad. "We even have winger Malemnganba Meitei, who was out for four months, back in the reckoning and he's been looking sharp at training. A player back from injury is as good as a new signing," said Westwood.

Skipper Sunil Chhetri, who is coming off a fantastic brace in the national team's 2-2 draw with Bangladesh, will be up against his former club and he highlighted the importance of the fixture. "It's neck and neck now. We are at a very crucial juncture but we back ourselves at home. It's going to be a very good game," said the skipper.

The two clubs have met once in the I-League where Bengaluru FC rode on a Sean Rooney strike and a Chhetri brace to beat Churchill 3-1 in Goa and an encore would certainly give impetus to the Blues' title charge. But going through an equally pleasing patch of form is Churchill striker Balwant Singh. The youngster, who made his senior India debut against Bangladesh, has eight goals to his credit and Bengaluru FC's defence, led by John Johnson and Curtis Osano will have to be on their A game. The match kicks off at 4 pm.