Sixth placed Pune City will clash against table toppers Delhi Dynamos and look to clinch all the three points on stake in the Indian Super League on Friday evening. To improve upon their semi-final finish from last season, Delhi Dynamos have secured the services of Italian Gianluca Zambrotta as a replacement coach for Brazil’s Roberto Carlos. The move proved to be a key one, as they now rest atop the points tally with 17 points from 10 matches.
In contrast, Pune City replaced coach David Platt from England with Spanish coach Antonio Habas who had won the title with Atletico de Kolkata in the inaugural season and led them to the semi-finals last year.
With a host of teams in the fray for a semi-final spot, Pune coach Antonio Habas is of the opinion that no team except Delhi can afford slip-ups in the run up to the business end of the tournament.
“We are on the hunt for a win. This league is very tough and all teams are in a similar situation. We are ready to grab these three points,” said Habas at the pre-match media interaction.
Pune come into this encounter on the back of a 2-0 loss against Chennayin FC. Habas admitted losing all points was a setback but all is still not lost for his team.
“All teams, except Delhi, are close (to each other on the table). The teams who play better and score goals will be the ones who make less mistakes. If you look at the points table, it’s all about plus or minus two points difference. Now it’s all about minimising mistakes,” said the Spanish coach who will be under pressure to deliver.
On paper and equally on the field, Delhi Dynamos have proved to be quite a strong team but Gianluca Zambrotta is not yet satisfies, a win against Pune which will ensure the team a berth in the semi-finals will perhaps be enough for him.
“At the moment we are in a good position but we are (still) a long way off from the play-offs. It’s a strong league. The next four matches will not be easy. We have to take match by match. Right now our focus is only on this match against Pune,” said the Italian World Cup winner.
Delhi are coming into the match after playing out an exciting 2-2 draw against Atletico de Kolkata which they achieved despite a player being sent off in the first session.
“I know Pune lost the last match (against Chennaiyin) but they have won two successive games against Kolkata and Mumbai. They are a difficult team and have good quality players,” said Zambrotta.
Pune will miss the services of Arata Izumi, which will see Spanish winger Jesus Tato and Eugeneson Lyngdoh come into attacking action. As for Dynamos, Milan Singh will be out of action after picking up his fourth booking of the league in the last match along with Senegalese striker Badara Badji who is suspended.
Pune City FC 2-3 Delhi Dynamos
Pune City FC: Anibal, Tato, Eugeneson, Narayan, Lucca, Sissoko, Bheke, Ferreira, Gouramangi, Ravanan and Bete.
Delhi Dynamos: Pelissari, Marcelinho, Lewis, Malouda, Tebar, Rupert, Souvik, Edathodika, Ruben, Kima and Doblas.