New Delhi: Pune FC will have the honour of being the first Indian club to host an AFC Champions League game when they play Vietnamese champions Hanoi T&T FC in a Round One play-off match at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex at Balewadi, Pune, on Wednesday.
With both nations getting a play-off berth after a two-year hiatus, the game is a must win for either side as progression to the second round qualifying beckons.
Coached by Phan Thanh Hung, Hanoi currently sit third in the V-League (Vietnam top-flight) points table.
“This is our first game in the AFC Champions League and we have prepared very hard for it. We have a lot of respect for the home team, but we want to try and win this game,” Hung said on Tuesday.
Hosts Pune FC, however, are midway through the season and like their counterparts are also third in the I-League standings (7w-3d-4l after Round-16). Having returned from the recently concluded Federation Cup in Kochi, the team will be raring to go in their first ever appearance on the continental stage.
Pune FC coach Mike Snoei was happy ahead of the game and explained, “It’s historic moment for the club. Now it is the responsibility of the players to give their all on the biggest stage. The game won’t be easy... we need to be cautious and senior players like Douhou Pierre and Calum Angus need to step up.”
EB, Bagan start favourites in IFA Shield
East Bengal will look to shrug off their Federation Cup disappointment when they kick off in the IFA Shield against South Korean club, Busan SunMoon FC, in a group I fixture at the Barasat Stadium near Kolkata on Tuesday.
United Sikkim FC will face S-League side Geylang International in the second match of the day. The 118-year-old tournament this year is lacking some sheen without top I-League clubs who have preferred to skip the Shield for the top tier league.
In such a scenario, the three foreign clubs, the other being Sheikh Jamal Dhanmodi Club of Bangladesh, will be in the spotlight among the four city I-League clubs and second division side United Sikkim FC....