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ISL: Habas boost for floundering Pune ahead of Chennaiyin test


Pune, Oct 22: FC Pune City will be pleased to have chief coach Antonio Habas in the dugout for their home clash against Chennaiyin FC, hoping the Spaniard can help them out of the woods in an Indian Super League (ISL) football match here on Sunday.

Habas will be taking charge of his wards for the first time after serving a four-match suspension, that was levied on him at the end of the last season, when he was the coach of Pune's rivals Atletico de Kolkata.

Pune have started poorly, this being their worst start to the tournament since its inception in 2014.

In the first year, they won two of the first three matches at home and repeated the feat last season as well. But this time around, they have been caught on the back foot.

Pune have picked up just a point from their first three matches at home and it will be something that coach Habas needs to address on Sunday at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium.

Even their solitary victory in this year's campaign came from a last-minute winner against FC Goa at Nehru Stadium in Goa last week.

"We are on the way to improving. At least we didn't lose, we drew (against Kerala Blasters). I think we played much better and we deserved to win. We will improve and we will work harder for our next game," said assistant coach Miguel in a release on Saturday, who will now hand over charge to Habas.

It will not be easy for the hosts against Chennaiyin FC. Past records show the defending champions have never lost against FC Pune City, winning three out of the four matches. The other clash ended with both teams sharing the spoils.

Chennaiyin have struck form after a disjointed start. They have picked up two convincing victories in a row against FC Goa and NorthEast United FC. If they manage to pick up full points against FC Pune City, they will become the first team to win three matches in a row in this edition of the ISL.

"What makes the difference between winning and losing is the mentality. After the Delhi game (which they lost) we knew that our performance was bad and we changed our attitude and here is the result," said Chennaiyin coach Marco Materazzi.

Not everything has gone according to plan for Materazzi. Striker Jeje Lalpekhlua is far from the high standards he set last year, scoring six goals and three assists.

This year, he has drawn a blank but given his past record against Pune – he has scored twice, including the winner when the two teams last met – Materazzi will be tempted to keep the faith in Jeje.

A win for Chennaiyin can take them to the top of the heap, while Pune will hope to jump to the top four and their nightmare at home will soon be forgotten.

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