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Sunday , 20 January 2019
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Crunch match for Delhi and Pune as final moments near

The final stretch is always loaded with imponderables;ask any runner on an athletics track. The situation is largely the same in a league when matches become fewer and the demand for earning points is high. Both FC Pune City and Delhi Dynamos face this situation when take each other on in Pune.

After the Dudu brace that brought Pune victory over Mumbai City FC, there was enough reason for jubilation because three valuable points were added to their kitty. Besides, the burly Nigerian, who is used to playing in Indian conditions with his past experience in the I-league, had helped his franchise to jump to the third spot.  But,it isn’t all hunky dory. Coach Franco Colomba’s celebratory runon to the pitch has cost him a place on the ground for the key match against Delhi. Colomba’s absence will act as an additional worry for the players as they take the field.

However, on one aspect both teams are clear: to aspire for the semi-final, a win is a must. Delhi coach Harm Van Veldhoven had said perhaps too soon that his team had gone into a winning mode on the eve of the match against Atlético de Kolkata. The Kolkata side actually nipped Delhi’s two-match winning streak with a defensive display for a goalless draw. Not that it helped the visitors but then ensuring a point in hand is perhaps better than seeking three and getting none.  ATK is still in third position and that is a lot more satisfying than Delhi’s sixth place.

Korean Park-Kwang II was in fine touch in the match and that meant the midfield was well taken care of.  Park did some good spade work with by getting the ball across to the rival box.  If not Dudu, there was Kostas Katsouranis also available to pounce on all opportunities.  This is an indication that Pune has settled down in to a good workable combination.

For Delhi, as coach Veldhoven said, the Kolkata side gave him reason to ponder over tactics to deal with an over-defensive approach. He still has a master player in Alessandro Del Piero as a choice to sharpen Delhi’s attack. Whether the Dynamos’ head coach will unleash the Italian great in Pune is the big question.  The tussle ahead promises to be an interesting one with Pune wanting to consolidate on Dudu’s good work and Delhi’s aiming to inch ahead with the hope of a top four finish. All things considered, whichever way one looks at it, this match will provide some defining moments for the league.

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