Pune: Pune is all set to witness Indian football history when their very own professional side Pune Football Club entertains English Premier League team Blackburn Rovers FC in a much awaited exhibition encounter.
The first-of-its-kind historic tie at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi-Mhalunge, and the home ground of hosts Pune FC will take place on Friday, July 22 at 7.00 pm.
Pune FC weren`t the first choice for Blackburn as they pursued Federation Cup champions East Bengal for long to accept their request which was rejected given that the team`s first team squad are away on vacation or national team commitment.
The Lancashire-based side’s trip to India will be the first ever by any English Premier League (EPL) squad to the sub-continent, which in turn will make Pune FC the first Indian club to face a side from a league so passionately followed by the world.
While the first-hand experience of witnessing top players regularly rubbing shoulders with the best back in London will be a first of its kind, the opportunity turns out to be a dream for the city’s growing football aficionados.
Pune FC Director Nandan Piramal says, “The game is a landmark encounter for Indian football fans and we are happy to be part of this treat both - Rovers and we have lined up.”
“We are equally excited and honored to be the first team from India to play this game that revolves around inscribing history. The match provides a golden opportunity for fans to not let go of this once in a life time chance.”
Rovers’ with midst regulars Chris Samba, Paul Robinson, David Dunn, Brett Emerton, David Hoilett, Jason Roberts, Morten Gamst Pedersen, Michel Salgado, Martin Olsson, Steven Nzonzi and Ryan Nelsen will provide fans a mix of home and international stars.
Pune FC, on their part, will field a host of their new signings made for the upcoming 2011-2012 season and are confident to brace up to the challenge.
For Steve Kean’s squad the stop over will be the first on their twin nation visit to the Asian continent. Following the friendly against Pune FC, the English side will proceed to wow East Asian fans on 27 and 30 July when it participates in the EPL`s Asian Trophy in Hong Kong, along with Aston Villa and Chelsea.
Backed by a 135-history, Rovers is one of the oldest and among the most reputed clubs, not only in the United Kingdom, but also in the world. Rovers in the past were league champions in 1995 when legends Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton formed the squad.
Blackburn are currently one of only four clubs to have won the Premier League, along with Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.
Pune FC, established in 2007, in the short span of existence has worked into becoming a model club in India owing to the systematic vision they have adopted in running a football club.
Having qualified for the I-League in 2009, Pune FC has so far achieved Top-5 finishes - a third place in their maiden year of the elite league and fifth place last season. The visiting Rovers last season finished 15th in the EPL.
With Pune FC already based in the city, Rovers’ Pune sojourn also marks the first visit by the Lancashire based side to the base of their owners - Indian poultry giant Venky`s.
The lone exhibition match against Pune FC will thus conclude the English team’s four-city promotional tour of the sub continent.
I was down 2-1 in the third it was really tight and it was really tough.