Third-placed FC Pune City travel to Guwahati to take on NorthEast United FC in a crucial Indian Super League (ISL) encounter on Wednesday. The Stallions are currently placed in third position in the league table and are very much in contention for a playoff spot with 22 points from 13 matches.
Pune coach Ranko Popovic will not be able to take the bench in Guwahati as he was sent off for protesting against the fourth official in their previous game against Kerala Blasters. Pune had lost the tie 2-1 at home.
Ahead of this important match, Pune City assistant coach Vladica Grujic spoke highly about Wednesday's opponents. He said, "NorthEast United’s position in the league table does not reflect their game. They played against FC Goa in their last match, one of the best teams in the league and drew. We know them very well. They are a very strong team. Now they have a new coach. They have developed with every game. They will be a very difficult opponent tomorrow."
Grujic further suggested that the pressure will be on his side as they chase a spot in the playoff round. NorthEast United, on the other hand, have almost no chance of making it to the last four stage and thus they can play without any added pressure.
"NorthEast United will be playing without any pressure considering the position they are in at the moment. But for us, and the teams who are competing for a playoff spot, it is a very dangerous situation. For example in their last match against Goa, everybody was thinking that Goa will win comfortably but we have all seen what had happened. We expect them to be very strong opponents. Our players must learn to play under pressure," the Pune assistant coach explained.
A win in Guwahati will take Pune to the second position in the league table, above Chennaiyin FC though John Gregory's men will retain a game in hand.