New Delhi, Aug 26 (IBNS): Pune FC faces a must-win game against Sesa Goa FA to enter the semifinals of the 125th Durand Cup.
With a verdict clearly spelt out, the need arose after the Goans downed CRPF 3-2 with a last-gasp winner. As a result, Sesa (3 points) currently tops the group, followed by Pune FC and Central Reserve Police Force (1 point each).
Sesa, like CRPF, pose to be an unknown entity ahead of the game. Though, one cannot ignore the two matches played by them during the II-Division I-League in 2009-10.
With one match ending in a 0-0 draw and the other going in Pune FC's favour 3-0, the hope is to continue the clean slate.
However, since then a lot has changed as Pune FC has moved on.
Going into the game, Coach Derrick Pereira feels, "Our experience should hold the edge on Monday."
However, while the Coach makes his point, the concern ahead of the game against Sesa is the Ambedkar Stadium pitch.
Persistent rain over the past three days in the city and the regular schedule of the matches has left the ground in poor condition. A factor expected to make the day difficult for both teams. "I am looking forward for conditions to improve and play good football," hoped Derrick.
Since the CRPF match, Pune FC's training sessions have also been hampered owing to the soggy Old Wilingdon Camp, IAF Complex, Race Course ground.
Ahead of Sunday's game, Pune FC had to give up hopes of a practice session when the approach road was cut off by police barricades. As a result, the team worked out at the hotel.
With just a point in hand, Coach Derrick is unperturbed with the opening game result, which led to the needing three points to advance into the knock-out stage. "The CRPF game was the first match of the season, and the boys took time to settle down," he explained.
"We had many positives emerge. We dominated, made the game totally one-sided in our favour. Moreover, I feel the boys did everything but score on a day that was not ours."
Pune FC is expected to field the same side as Coach Derrick feels one match is not fair to make changes based on one match. "I prefer the same team to continue. And I am sure they will deliver."
Victory on Monday would mean Pune FC making it to their second successive Durand Cup semifinal on the trot.
The kick off is slated for 1.45 pm.
Durand Cup: Pune Football Club to face off Sesa Goa FA
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