DSK Shivajians face Sporting Goa in I-League (Preview)

Pune, March 12 (IANS) DSK Shivajians FC will aim to build on the monumental victory over East Bengal when they host Sporting Club de Goa in an I-League Round 12 clash at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Mhalunge-Balewadi here on Sunday.

Currently ninth in the standings, DSK Shivajians (9 points) are level on points with Salgaocar FC and Aizawl FC but trail the duo on head-to-head. However, with a game in hand, the three points will be crucial for DSK Shivajians who can make a considerable move up the table with a win.

Despite having a slow start to the season, DSK will be confident going into this crucial clash having managed to up their game in recent weeks picking up five points in the past three games. Back-to-back draws against Shillong Lajong and the massive win over East Bengal helped DSK to their longest unbeaten streak, something the Pune-based side will be keen to extend.

Fourth-placed Sporting Clube de Goa, on the other hand, has amassed 14 points so far from 11 matches and will be a tricky opponent. The Goan-side will look to continue their impressive form in the wake of recent draws with the likes of Bengaluru FC and defending champions Mohun Bagan AC.

Sporting are currently on a four-match winless streak which includes three consecutive draws that followed a loss. However, they have managed to pick up two wins on the road this season and will pose a considerable threat.

When both sides faced off in the season opener, they ended up sharing spoils in a goalless draw which was also DSK Shivajians’ first-ever game in the top-flight. However, both DSK Shivajians and Sporting have improved their goal tallies ever since having netted seven and eight goals respectively in the last five games.

“We have been in good spirits and will hope to perform the way we performed in the previous match and try to get three points. We have a fit team and all the players are available for the match,” DSK Shivajians head coach Derrick Pereira said.

“Sporting Clube de Goa is a good side who move around the ball well and are strong in attack. We have taken note of their strengths and weaknesses and accordingly, have prepared a game plan for the match which could help us win.”

The home side will be banking on the strike force of skipper Perrick Dipanda, who leads the scoring charts with four goals, along with partner Douhou Pierre, who netted his second of the season in victory against East Bengal. Spanish medio Juan Quero too has been in fine form and Periera will hope the trio to fire again.

Juan Quero, talking about the mood in the dressing room, said: “The players are content with the last performance. We realise all the matches are important and we have to keep working to keep getting good results. Our team is prepared and hopefully we can get the victory.”

While DSK have been boosted by the availability of their full strength squad for this crucial game, opponents Sporting will be missing the services of Nigerian defender Loveday Okechukwu, who was sent off in their 2-2 draw against Bengaluru FC a week ago along with striker Odafa Okolie, who is out injured.

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