Navi Mumbai, Feb 5: Two-time defending champions Pune FC will be looking to continue their winning run when they face AIFF Regional Academy, Navi Mumbai, in a crucial Round 4 encounter of the Under-19 I-League at the Fr. Agnel Ground in Vashi Thursday.
Unbeaten in three games, AIFF Academy currently tops the table with nine points having played three games. On the other hand, Pune FC are second on six points, having played a game less than their opponents.
With only one team qualifying for the final phase in Jamshedpur, a victory for either side in the top-of-the-table football clash will put them in pole position for qualification.
Formed around two years ago, the AIFF Academy is currently competing for the first time in the league. Having beaten all other teams in the group, they have scored 11 goals while conceding only twice so far.
Under coach Sajid Yusuf Dar, the hosts have been in great form recently and have impressed one and all with results against big teams in Mumbai.
On the other hand, the Naushad Moosa-led Pune FC too come into the game in great form. Undefeated campaigns in the PDFA Super Division League and Ashok Vanjari Memorial Cup, along with wins in the opening two rounds of the I-League have given the team confidence ahead of the clash.
On the team news front, Pune FC will be missing the services of key striker Syed Shoaib Ahmed for a second game in a row after he was injured in the opener against Kenkre FC. However, attacker Yumnam Arnold Singh will be available for selection after recovering from a shoulder injury he suffered against Mumbai FC in Pune.
With both teams being the only full time residential academies in the state, a battle for supremacy will be on the cards.