Jamshedpur: An upbeat Jamshedpur will hope to maintain their unbeaten streak when they take on Pune City FC at the JRD Tata Complex on Sunday. The Steve Coppell managed side, fresh from securing their first victory of the season after three consecutive goalless draw will however face a different challenge against the ‘Stallions’ that possess two of last season’s highest goal-scoreres.
“Pune are a top side. It is fair to say that. They arguably have the two best strikers in the league. Both Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro were great last year. They make a lethal combination. It will be a tough game but I think it enjoyable for everyone to watch,” Coppell said at the pre-match press conference on Saturday.
The ‘Men of Steel’ on the other side have been the most organised defence in the league and are yet to concede a goal and Pune coach Ranko Popovic was full of praise for the opposition and also spoke of the new challenge at hand. “In my opinion, they are the best organised team in terms of defense. They haven’t conceded yet. It won’t be easy for us either but we’ll try to score and that is the challenge. I’m really excited about the game tomorrow,” said the Serbian.
Jamshedpur will nonetheless miss Indian international Anas Edathodika, who suffered an injury against the Kerala Blasters and will be out of action for some time. “Anas is injured. He is not with us. He is undergoing specialist physiotherapy. As I said, he didn’t travel with the team last time because we don’t want him to travel and aggravate his injury,” confirmed the Englishman Coppell.
Playing without one of their main defenders it will however be an enormous task for the home team to keep both Alfaro and Marcelinho quiet through the match. The Uraguyan has already scored four, while the Brazilian is soon catching up with two goal to his name. Jamshedpur custodian Subrata Paul meanwhile, has been the best goalkeeper with four clean-sheets to his name and Coppell will be hoping the Indian spiderman stay true to his tagname, keeping every ball away from the goal.
The hard pitch of the Tata complex have been under the scanner ever since the side’s first and only home match against ATK for it’s robust hardness, that might cause serious injury to any player. Pune coach Popovic however refused to use it as an excuse and said, “We have to get on with the game. I hope it’s better.” Before concluding, “Jamshedpur has the best footballing academy in the India. People love football here.”