Both teams will be eager to re-kindle their continental hopes as they look out to grab the second spot behind Kitchee SC.
Pune FC will face Myanmar side Nay Pyi Taw in their penultimate Group H encounter in the AFC Cup on Tuesday.
The Red Lizards are going through a rough patch in 2014 and their continental campaign has been no exception. The runners-up of last year’s I-League have garnered only a couple of points from their 4 matches in the competition and are placed at the rock bottom of the league table. If they are to live with the hopes of making to the knock-out stages of the competition, they have to bag all three points from this tie.
Talking about their opponents, Nay Pyi Taw is in the third position of the league and they will also crave for a win to hone their knock-out hopes. This is their first participation in the tournament as well and they have trumped Tampines Rovers to notch up their first victory. Though they had earned four points from their first two matches, two consecutive losses at the hands of Kitchee SC have dented their hopes.
This tie is a silver lining for both sides to set their sight on the second place for the last time.
“It’s nice to be here, we call it Burma. We cannot prepare (for this game). This is a different location, and we had a very long trip from airport (to reach Nay Pyi Taw). Overall it was a 22-hour journey. So instead of training after arrival, I gave my team an off. They were completely dead, very tired. We also played a game three days ago; so to recover they really needed the rest,” said Pune FC coach Mike Snoei.
The coach also lamented on the hectic schedule as his team and took a veiled dig at the All India Foootball Federation (AIFF).
“Your (Myanmar’s) federation is very smart. They postponed their competition game to give your team (NPT) rest. It is very smart of them and (this) is done in Europe as well. But for us, we have to play, travel and then play again in a quick period,” he told the local media in the pre-match press conference.”
Midfield general of the Red Lizards, Douhou Pierre however sounded hopeful of taking home a positive result.
“We have a chance but we need to do well in our two games including the one at home for that. The possibility of qualification is not over, but then that will all depend on other results as well,” he opined.
The Myanmar outfit are going through a good run in their domestic league, enjoying an unbeaten streak of 8 matches, but a recent blip in form has seen them win only one of the last four fixtures.
The return of prolific Italian striker Michele Di Piedi will be a boost to the team, but they will be missing services of Korean playmaker Jung Yoon-Sik, their top-scorer in the AFC Cup with two goals.