Both teams have failed to register a win in their first match and desperately need one to stay in contention to qualify...
The Purple Brigade had succumbed to a 1-2 defeat at the hands of Churchill Brothers and find themselves amidst a plethora of problems. Coach Eelco Schattorie also conceded that Pune will be a tough nut to crack.
"Pune is a team we have played twice already. In the first match we fought back from a 1-0 down and equalized. Second game was the same as the Churchill match. In 15 minutes we were 2-0 down. Second half we made it 2-1 and had many chances to make it 2-2.
“We had a good chance but Pune has a decent defense and are organized well. It all comes down to the form of the day. I hope that after scoring, Ranti Martins has got some confidence back and will get us in the right direction. Both teams have to win so it's going to be an interesting game," Eelco told Goal before the game.
Midfielder Lalkamal Bhowmick had to play for his office side and hence had to miss the opening fixture for his club. Schattorie will take a call on his inclusion on Friday morning.
"Lalkamal travelled for office job and came back. I am not sure if I will let him play. Hassan (Al Moustafa) is still not fit so Anupam Sarkar and Sheikh Azim will play at the back again," the Dutch gaffer informed.
Talking about their opponents, the Red Lizards were held by Eagles FC in their opening encounter and they too have to win this match at any cost to make it to their first ever semifinal appearance in the nations' premier cup tournament.
Pune FC are still missing the services of Nikhil Kadam on the left flank and Anthony D'Souza will once again be starting in his place. The responsibility of scoring will be on the shoulders of ex-Levante striker Mustapha Riga, while Arata Izumi will be trying to improve on his goal-scoring record in Kerala.
Interestingly Pune FC roped in Nicolau Borges from Mohun Bagan just a week back and though the player doesn’t have any fitness concerns, he has been left out of their Federation Cup squad.
Mike Snoei also sounded confident and stressed that his team will try to recover from their bad start.
"We’ve played them twice this year and done well (a draw and a win). Yes we are confident going into this game as well. It was not a good opening match. Yes we did not have our best game. After the break in season we were rusty.
“The second half we played well and scored. Everybody expected us to win against the second division side (Eagles SC), but let me tell you they had experienced players. In EPL and Leagues abroad top-sides find lower division sides tough,” he vented his opinion.
It will be another rasping face-off between two Dutch tacticians and given the situation the Kolkata side finds it in, it will not be unfair to say that Pune will have the upper hand going into the game.