| Chirag Uniteds top marksman Brazilian Joshimar |
Calcutta: An upbeat Chirag United will take on a depleted Pune FC who will be without India goalkeeper Subrata Paul in their 20th round I-League encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday.
Chirag, currently third on the table with 30 points, would like to consolidate their position in the standings with the formidable Churchill Brothers, with 29 points from 18 games, snapping at their heels. Pune FC are fifth with 26 points from 18 matches.
Chirags main advantage is certainly the absence of Paul in the Pune FC goal. The India No.1 is out with a double booking and that is definitely a worry for Derrick Perreira. Chirag themselves arent missing any players save Shylo Malswantluanga.
The purple brigade will be keen to avenge their 1-2 first leg loss to the I-League debutants. The Chirag players and support staff still believe that the winner scored by Douhou Pierre in the match on January 28 was a debatable one.
It was not a penalty. We were wronged by a bad decision. Otherwise we would have got a point from that match, a senior official said.
Chirag will definitely have revenge on their mind when they go out on Friday afternoon. Assistant coach Anjan Nath however would like to play it safe.
Pune FC are a very good side. In their first season, they have already got 26 points from 18 matches, so there is no question of taking them lightly. Our strategy will be simple. First, we have to ensure we dont concede silly goals and, then, we will look to attack, said Nath.
The buoyant Chirag are going into the match with a 5-1 win over West Bengal Police in a CFL Premier Division match, a couple of days ago.
Their main striker Joshimar Martins — currently second on the I-League top-scorers list with 14 goals — is in good form. He struck a hattrick against the policemen and would like to keep up the good work in the next level.
Pune FC coach Perreira, too, sounded a note of caution. We cant take Chirag lightly. They have good players like Joshimar, Edmilson, Ashim Biswas who can prove dangerous on their day, Perreira said after the teams evening practice session.
Meanwhile, in a sudden turn of events, Paul, who was supposed to go to Canada for trials with the Vancouver White Caps — the club are supposed to play in MLS next season — has currently shelved the trip.
I have not decided on my trip to Canada. There is some confusion that needs to be cleared before I make a final call. Right now, my focus is to take Pune FC as high as possible on the I-League table, Paul said.
However, when asked whether he would be game for a foreign stint next seasoon, he said: Yes, I have decided to venture out but it has to be a good offer which proves beneficial for my career.