New Delhi: Having made their first-ever major semifinal, Pune FC is eager to stretch the distance when they run into defending champions Prayag United in the 124th Durand Cup at the Ambedkar Stadium on Wednesday.
While the game expects to be a hard-fought battle, Pune FC coach Derrick Pereira admits that his opponents` morale is high. This he bases on the fact that his opponents beat Federation Cup champs Salgaocar SC.
On the other hand, Pune FC, who have fielded a relatively young side, will bank on the confidence they showed as a collective unit to get this far.
With three scorers, Karma Tsewang, Paresh Shivalkar and Rollingson Hyungyo finding the net, Pune FC have proved the willingness of players taking responsibility in crunch situations.
Pune FC coach says, "They are no doubt on a high. They have it in them to take it further and want to reach the final."
This is the second of its kind meeting in the capital for both teams. In fact, last year (2010) both was clubbed together in the group stage and went on to play a goalless draw.
Pune FC lost out making it to the semifinals on goal difference, which in a way is reason enough for them to turn tables in this result-oriented round.
With Prayag`s attacks revolving around Joshimar DaSilva and Yusuf Yakubu and a well combining midfield particularly Denson Devadas, the onus will be on the Pune FC defence.
It is in this department where Pune FC will hope for Chika Wali to lead from the front and perhaps plan on his own with the insight he has having played for them last year.
For Chika the match will be important in the point of view that he stands a chance to win back-to-back titles in Pune FC lasts till the end.
Pune FC have just one worry in the form of left-wing back Kamaljeet Kumar, who has a niggling injury. ?He was Ok in the morning, but we shall take a call on him tomorrow morning,? informed the coach.
Both Pune FC and Prayag United have played out close matches in the past and all elite level contests was decided by one-goal margins. Pune FC holds the edge 2-1 in the five times they met so far, while two matches have ended in draws.