PUNE: Having extended their winless record for four matches, DSK Shivajians’ find themselves at one of the crucial junctures as the lone representative from Pune in Hero I-League take on Mumbai FC in an all-new ‘Maha Derby’ in the Round 6 match at the Balewadi Sports Complex Stadium on Sunday.
The home team, who made their debut this season, has found it hard to match up to the competitiveness of the league so far. Their opponents Mumbai FC have had a contrasting start to the season, and especially the win against former champions and league leaders Bengaluru FC earned huge accolades for the refurbished Mumbai outfit.
The Khalid Jamil-coached team has evolved into a serious unit, which Shivajians would have to tackle to get their first victory of the season.
In the 9-team competition, Mumbai FC are fourth with 8 points from 4 matches, which include two wins, and a loss and draw each. Shivajians, on the other hand, are rattling at the bottom of the table with 1 point from 4 matches, same as Salgaocar FC, but the Pune team is placed lower due to their inferior goal difference.
It has been a tough start for Derrick Pereira’s men in the Hero I-League. Make no mistake, this is an attack bolstered by the likes of Mohammed Rafi, Douhou Pierre and Ishrail Gurung.
Going into this key derby game, Derrick Pereira spoke in reference to the poor start made by his side.
“We are working hard, trying to sort the problems we’ve faced. We have conceded a lot of goals through set-pieces and we look to stop that,” said Pereira.
The experienced coach also said that his players are in confident mood ahead of the game and that undoubtedly would help them in getting the job done.
However, there are few key players of the Shivajians who are set to miss out the crucial derby. Sena Ralte has been ruled out due to suspension while Prakash Thorat remains doubtful. New recruitments Baljeet Sahni and Anas Edathodika would definitely provide much-needed experience in the DSK Shivajians squad. Pereira would hope that the new signings gel well with the players in order to get positive results for the remainder of the season.
“We need to create more chances and finish them off. Tomorrow’s match will be a tough one as Mumbai FC is a good fighting team and understating between the team is really good. They are also on a good run of form, having beaten Bengaluru FC recently. On the other hand, our performance is getting better with every passing match and we are confident that we can get points on the table,” explained Pereira.
Khalid Jamil will not be taking the Shivajians lightly, although they are not on a good run in the ongoing Hero I-League, “They (DSK Shivajains) are a strong side. I have seen them play. They have quality players and we have to be at our best,” said Mumbai coach when asked about Sunday’s opposition.
With no injuries whatsoever, Mumbai would be lining up very strongly against the DSK side. The only player, missing for the visitors, is Jayesh Rane, who is in the National camp right now. Mumbai FC are now on a two-game winning streak and would do everything to keep the streak unscathed.