Top flight debutants DSK Shivajians face an arduous task when they take on defending champions Mohun Bagan for the first time in front of their home fans in an I-League encounter at the Balewadi Sports Complex Stadium here on Saturday.
A draw and two losses after their first three matches has placed DSK Shivajians at eighth place in the nine-team table with one point and just a place above bottom scrappers Salgaocar Football Club, who are yet to open their account.
Nonetheless, it will be a new day and a new start for DSK Shivajians, who will become the third club, after Pune FC and Bharat FC, to represent Pune in the premier league of India.
With Kolkata powerhouse Mohun Bagan as their first home opponents, DSK Shivajians, will first look to find their first goal in the I-League.
The match was originally scheduled to start at 7 pm but was preponed to 5:30 pm.
Mohun Bagan, who are fresh from their 3-1 thrashing of Singapore outfit Tampines Rovers in an AFC Champions League qualifier in Kolkata on Wednesday, will look to continue with their scintillating form, especially their sheer hegemony in the attacking third is getting stronger with every match.
For Mohun Bagan, the game against DSK Shivajians will be like a quick outing before an important away match in the AFC qualifiers against top Chinese club Shandong Luneng FC on February 2.
Mohan Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen, said the fixtures have been tight for his team, but they are ready to cope with it.
“We knew about the fixtures and also knew that we will have to travel after winning the AFC qualifier. In seven days we play three different matches at three different venues. We are looking forward to it and hope for good results,” Sen said.
Sen also thanked the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the hosts for taking efforts and rescheduling the match because of the travel plans of Mohan Bagan as they travel to Mumbai to take a flight to China immediately after the match.
“DSK Shivajians is a mix of youth and experienced players. They have Subrata Paul, Haroon Amiri, Mohammed Rafi, Douhou Pierre and others who are very experienced also there are youngsters like Prakash Thorat, Israil Gurung and other,” Sen said.
“We are looking forward to the three points. Let us finish this match then we will look forward to our next match,” he added.
DSK coach Derrick Pereira, on the other hand, is looking forward to the match. “The match against Mohun Bagan will be the toughest one. If we stick to the game plan we will get the desired results. If you perform well you get the results. If we contain them in the first half then there are more chances for us in the second half. We have to improve and create more chances,” he said.
Speaking about their last encounter, Pereira said, “In Kolkata the boys played well against a tough opponent. We got a few chances but did not finish them. We have had three tough away matches. The match against East Bengal was the best amongst the three away fixtures.”
It will be interesting to see how big a crowd turns up for the game on Saturday as Pune has witnessed a dismal attendance as far as the I-League is concerned.