Kolkata: Having set the pace in their group, Pune Football Club faces the test of building on the position they worked for in their Federation Cup match against defending champions East Bengal in Kolkata on Monday.
For Pune FC, the fixture scheduled at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan has one clear objective: to hold out as their opponents will be looking to get back into the reckoning of Mission Semifinal. A 1-1 draw that the Red and Gold's played against Mohammedan Sporting has worked as an onus upon them.
At the conclusion of the first-round matches in Group-C, Pune FC (3 points) lead standings, followed by East Bengal and Sporting (1 point), while Dempo SC (0 points) complete the standings.
"All teams are evenly poised and competitive to move into the next stage. We need to play to our potential and build on the win we logged earlier. The team is upbeat and ready for East Bengal," said Coach Derek Pereira.
In saying so, the coach goes on, "There is no denying that they (East Bengal) are a quality side… a Top-5 team in Indian football."
Having made his point, Pune FC seeks that one point to place themselves in the good position of making the next stage. For East Bengal a must-win is the option to bounce back.
In saying so, Pune FC has a few of their players down with injury niggles. Among them is goalkeeper Subrata Paul, defender Chika Wali and medio Arata Izumi.
Another hiccup is the non-availability of medio Lester Fernandez owing to the double booking he earned against Dempo SC.
"The injuries are not worrisome, they should be fine," said the coach.
On Lester's replacement, Derrick has many options in Srikanth Ramu, Kamaljeet Kumar and even Karma Tsewang. While Derrick is not likely to make any major changes to the winning side, it is the confidence and good feeling factor that he expects to make a difference on Monday.
With pressure on both sides, Pune FC seek to come through with a lot of expectation from their strikers Jeje Lalpeklua and Mandjou Keita who stood tall.
Both teams go into the match having played each other on five occasions. Interestingly, four were result-oriented leaving winning honours evenly balanced. One match ended in a goalless draw.