Kochi, Jan 16 - Pune FC face United SC in a must-win Round-2 clash of the 35th Federation Cup at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here Friday.
The Group A game is important for both teams as they attempt to catch up with group-leaders Churchill Brothers after losing ground in the opening round.
The square-off is the second-ever in the Federation Cup after the 1-1 group stage draw in the previous edition at Jamshedpur. Moreover, this is the third clash in less than two months.
United SC go into the game after an opening round loss and an unsatisfactory two-month period, something Pune FC hope to exploit. Add being low on morale owing to financial problems, the Kolkata side have struggled to log a top-flight win in nine games since last the week of November.
Apart from poor results, injuries have hit United SC hard in the recent past forcing them to miss services of key players.
With a new goalkeeper in Jayanta Paul and the team missing services of talismanic defender Bello Rasaq, problems were evident as United conceded two goals on counter attacks against Churchill.
The Pune FC-attack led by Riga Mustapha, Douhou Pierre and James Meyer will be looking to exploit these weak links in opponent’s defence.
Nonetheless, the Eelco Schattorie-led side will be heavily relying on the attacking trio of Ranti Martins, C.K. Vineeth and Eric Brown to provide goals upfront while the duo of Souvik Chakrabarti and either Mohammad Rafique or Asif K. will look to drive the team forward from the midfield.
United SC, however, will miss the services of medio Lalkamal Bhowmick, an Income-Tax employee, who flew back for his side’s All India Departments Football Championship clash against Central Excise after the game against Churchill Brothers.
Having drawn their opener against Eagles FC (1-1), Pune FC will hope to turn around their fortunes and push for a semi-final berth.