Pune: FC Pune City will aim to replicate their away form at home when they take on a crumbling NorthEast United at the Sree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium here on Saturday.
An unbeaten streak away from home saw Pune decimate defending champions ATK 4-1, before putting aside debutants Jamshedpur FC and FC Goa to enter the top four. Their home form however has been in huge contrast to their away performance with just one win from four matches.
But assistant coach Vladica Grujic will hope to turn things around this time in the absence of head coach Ranko Popovic, who has been handed a four match ban for his derogatory comments against the referee after his side’s 2-0 victory against FC Goa.
The home team will surely miss Popovic’s presence on the sidelines. But the bigger concern for assistant coach Vladica Grujic is replicating their away form at home.
“We have lost two games at home (consecutively) but everyone knows that with a little bit of luck, we could win too. The team is doing well and we have gotten better with every game. We don’t have to think about what happened in the past,” said Grujic.
The ‘Stallions’ will however fancy their chances against a team that is lingering at the ninth position in the table and has managed to find the net just twice in the past six outings, with both the goals coming against the unsettled Delhi Dynamos.
Grujic nonetheless refused to see it as an easy fixture but asked his boys to be focussed against an ‘strong opponent.’ “They have four points but if you watch the games, they could have had many more. The team plays good football and tomorrow we will be facing a strong opponent,” added the Serbian.
NorthEast United in the other hand have been good but only in patches and although the ‘Highlanders’ have suffered three consecutive losses coach De Deus felt that his team have been organised in all the matches but only Chennaiyin where they conceded three goals.
“If you see our games, you can see an organised team. You see a team that defends well. If you remove the game in Chennai where we conceded three goals, where I fielded a player who was sick and in a very bad condition, it’s difficult to score against us. If you score, it’s a bonus that we offer,” said the Portuguese.
Come Friday De Deus will surely hope that his team do it give away any ‘bonus’ to their opponents but break their goal-drought, something that could probably lift their already sinking ship.