Pune FC face Hanoi T&T in round one of the AFC Champions League play-off at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi, Pune on Wednesday.
Midfielder Arata Izumi hailed the tie as a historic moment in the club’s history as they become the first Indian team to play the Champions League play-off on home soil.
“Obviously this is a great day for us and is a historical moment for Pune FC. We want to do well. More than anything, fans are expecting a lot. It’s a great chance as we are playing at home. So we should do well,” he told Goal.
However Pune FC’s form has been poor as they finished at the bottom of their cluster in the Federation Cup earlier this month where they stuttered to two defeats and a draw against a second division outfit.
In the I-League too, they have only managed to notch one win since the end of November in six matches. Arata suggested that since the team had an eye on the tie against Hanoi, they were a lot of changes made in order to determine the best combination.
“The previous results do not matter. We were preparing for this. There were a lot of trial in the team and sometimes it does work, sometime it doesn’t. Results are not a big thing.
“We have started to understand each other very well. The combination between players is much better than before. We are very much confident about the game.”
Speaking on their opponents, the 31-year old had done some research on his own to see how the Red Giants play.
“Personally I have seen some videos on Youtube but in the team meeting before the game, we will study about them. The coach (Mike Snoei) and the staff have done studied the opposition.”
Pune FC have won four of their six home matches in the I-League this term and have kept four clean sheets in them. Interestingly they have scored in each of their six matches in front of the home support.
“If you win then you go into the next stage otherwise you don’t. It’s simple. We have to play to win and so we have to go for attack. This is our home game and no point in us holding back. We have to speak to the coach and we will see what the final tactics are and accordingly, we will play. Personally I think we must go for attack,” Arata opined.
The former East Bengal player wants fans to turn up in numbers for the high profile game to back the team from Pune to triumph.
“Our management are trying to gather more and more people for the game. I am expecting the stadium to be full. Pune FC supporters must come to the stadium and cheer us.”
How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.