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Chirag face Pune test

Pune FC will miss out on Edmar Figueira in round XVIII I-League match against Chirag United but the Brazilian striker's absence will be compensated with the return of their leading goal scorer Mandjou Keita.

sports Updated: Mar 08, 2011 00:56 IST

Pune FC will miss out on Edmar Figueira in round XVIII I-League match against Chirag United but the Brazilian striker's absence will be compensated with the return of their leading goal scorer Mandjou Keita.

The Guinea striker, who has six goals to his credit this season, will return to the line-up after sitting out the against Air India, while Lester Fernandes will also make a comeback.

"We expect Keita to deliver the same way as Edmar has in his absence. The boys need to keep their heads down and stay focused as every point at this juncture of the league is crucial," Pereira said.

He further said they had learnt a lesson the hard way when they squandered a 4-0 advantage to be held by Viva Kerala at home in a round 16 match. "The game against Viva Kerala where we have forfeited a 4-0 advantage. The boys have understood that there can be no slip up."

Pereira said their main challenge will be to go past Chirag's defence. "Chirag United are a side with a good strike-force. But the challenge will be their defence."

From three meetings in the I-League so far, Pune FC have regsitered one win while two matches were drawn including the first-leg fixture that saw a 1-1 result.

Desperate for a win, a depleted Chirag United will take the field.

Star recruit Sunil Chhetri, goalkeeper Abhijit Mondal, defenders Arnab Mondal and Subhasish Roy Choudhury have been ruled out with injuries, which means technical director Subrata Bhattacharya will have to use his limited resources on the home condition.

On paper, seventh-placed Chirag United may be a point ahead of the Pune outfit in the I-League table, but the form

factor is heavily tilted in the favour of the visitors who are unbeaten in their last five matches.

Beside looking to exploit the home advantage, Chirag will bank on their foreigner duo of Joshimar Martins and Junior Elijah to lead the team to a safety zone.

"We require three points to move into the safety zone...but at the same time, we should not under-estimate our opponents as they boast of some fine players in Subrata Pal and Izumi Arata among others," Bhattacharya said.