Mumbai move to the top with a 1-0 win over NorthEast
Mumbai City FC condemned NorthEast United FC to their third straight home defeat after registering a 1-0 victory in the Hero Indian Super League at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati, on Saturday. The visitors relied on an opportunistic goal from Jackichand Singh to notch up a slender victory that helped them regain top spot on the table . Mumbai City now have 15 points from nine matches – two more than second-placed Delhi Dynamos.
NorthEast United continue to be beyond the play-off spot after being left with 10 points from their eight matches played so far. Crucially, the Highlanders have lost their last three matches, and all of them have been played at home.
The hosts looked determined to wipe off bitter memories from their last two games but fell behind at the worst possible time due to a lapse in concentration from goalkeeper Wellington de Lima Gomes in the 45th minute. The Brazilian appeared to be in control of a back pass when he dodged Sony Norde but the he was too overconfident with the ball in a dangerous position and Norde capitalised before playing the ball into the stride of Jackichand who tapped home the ball.
NorthEast’s only effort on goal in the first session was spectacularly saved by Mumbai City goalkeeper Albino Gomes. Katsumi Yusa did well to break free on the counter and found Alfaro who showed good skill to chest the ball and volley it towards goal only for the Mumbai goalkeeper to somehow push it away.
It was a different story in the next 45 minutes as the NorthEast players pressed hard for the advantage. Katsumi Yusa and Emiliano Alfaro combined well upfront and created problems for the rival defenders. However, the Mumbai defenders had all the answers needed to keep the opposition attackers at bay.
At the other end, Mumbai City marquee Diego Forlan was creating good chances. It was his through ball that allowed Jackichand the first look at goal in the sixth minute only to chip it wide past the onrushing goalkeeper. Forlan was also deadly with free-kicks and corner-kicks although Leo Costa’s header that sailed just wide was the closest that they got.
Antonio Habas looking to win his first home game as Pune manager
Antonio Habas will have to keep his emotions under check as FC Pune City host his former club and season 1 champions Atletico de Kolkata in a Hero Indian Super League clash at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune on Sunday. Habas guided Atletico de Kolkata to the ISL title in 2014 and then ensured the team made it to the semi-finals last season, losing a fierce contest against eventual champions Chennaiyin FC.
After deciding to move to FC Pune City, things have not really gone the way as Habas would have liked. Serving a four match suspension at the start, the Spaniard saw his team win just four points from the first four matches and since his return to the technical bench for the last three matches, Pune City picked up only two points.
With a match in hand, Pune City can jump to the sixth position above FC Goa and Kerala Blasters if they defeat Atletico de Kolkata. However, given Pune’s poor run at home and ATK’s strong showing this season, the visitors should start as favourites.
Kolkata have 12 points from seven matches and will move to the top spot with a win in Pune. Coach Jose Molina, who replaced Habas at the start of the season, has helped the team dish out some fine performances and the return of marquee player Helder Postiga has boosted Atletico’s confidence. After an injury-forced absence of four matches, Postiga scored his first goal through a delightful header to script a spectacular comeback win against NorthEast United FC.
Atletico de Kolkata have retained the maximum number of international players for this season. Habas knows all of them quite well and it will be interesting to see how he sets up his team to thwart the visitors and plot Pune’s resurgence.
FC Pune City
Edel Bete will be looking to keep his first clean sheet of the season as he takes on his former club. In defence, Augstine Fernandes and Gouramangi Singh are likely to start as centre-backs. Marquee man Mohamed Sissoko and Jonathan Lucca will form a midfield pivot with Dramane Traore leading the line.
FC Pune City Probable XI: Bete; Bhelke, Fernandes, Singh, Das; Sissoko, Lucca; Tato, Pradhan, Rodriguez; Traore.
Atletico de Kolkata
Helder Postiga will be raring to have a go after returning from injury and will be hoping to put up a fine showing in front of his former manager. Iian Hume is likely to return to the lineup after being left out last time around. Indian defenders Pritam Kotal and Prabir Das will play as right and left full-backs with Debjit Majumder in goal.
Atletico de Kolkata Probable XI: Majumder; Kotal, Sereno, Mondal, Das; Fernandez, Pearson; Doutie, Hume, Ralte; Postiga.
FC Pune City 1-1 Atletico de Kolkata
FC Pune City have managed to create some decent chances in the recent games, but have failed to capitalise on them. However, Habas is confident of his side’s chances in this game and it looks like the Stallions will find the back of the net. That being said, they are quite as likely to concede a goal, and the contest could end in a stalemate.