Carlos Calvo, Soosairaj back, JFC looks to extend unbeaten run at home
Jamshedpur, Feb 15: Jamshedpur FC will be looking to extend their seven match unbeaten run at home when they face FC Pune City at the JRD Tata Sports Complex Stadium in Jamshedpur on Saturday. It will also be a must win match for the Men of Steel to stay alive in the race for a play-off spot and anything other than a win on Saturday could see hopes of making the playoffs for the first time take a beating.
Interestingly, the Stallions have a spotless record against Jamshedpur and have won all of their previous three fixtures in the Hero ISL.
Currently fifth in the table with 23 points from 15 matches, Jamshedpur will be looking for all three points on Saturday to stay within one point of the top four and give themselves a fighting chance going into their final two matches of the league phase.
The Miners put on a diligent display to secure a win in their last match against Mumbai City FC despite having a depleted squad. Cesar Ferrando will be boosted by the return of Carlos Calvo to the side, with his three-match suspension having come to an end but the Spaniard will be undergoing a late fitness test to determine whether he will be ready to play on Saturday.
Michael Soosairaj, who missed Jamshedpur’s last two matches owing to a viral fever, is expected to start from the bench. Australian striker Tim Cahill will, however, be not available for selection due to his hand injury.
Jamshedpur have been unbeaten in their seven home clashes this season and that is a record they will hope to extend with the upcoming clash against Pune as well as the final league game against Bengaluru FC.
Ferrando’s men have been a hard side to beat this season and have lost just the two matches so far, which is the joint lowest in the league alongside table toppers Bengaluru FC.
However, they have also struggled to convert enough draws into wins, which has contributed to them being outside the top four. Jamshedpur fans will hope the team can string together a winning run in the final few matches of the league stage to give themselves a fighting chance of securing a play-off spot.
After a terrible start to their season, Pune picked up 10 points from a possible 12 in their last four matches to hand themselves an outside chance of making it to the top four. However, nothing less than a victory would suffice for the Stallions on Saturday if they want to stay in the race even mathematically.
Under new head coach Phil Brown, the Stallions have looked to take the game to the opposition and will be expected to stick with their aggressive approach against Jamshedpur.
The Punekars have scored seven goals in their last four matches, with Marcelo Pereira scoring four of them, and will be a threat going forward. Apart from Marcelo, the likes of Iain Hume, Ashique Kuruniyan, Robin Singh and Diego Carlos pose a considerable goal threat against any opposition. Marko Stankovic will be expected to orchestrate the play from midfield.
Pune have been without Matt Mills in the last few matches and the ace defender’s availability for Saturday’s match is still doubtful.