THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

Pune FC aim for first-ever overseas trophy

Pune FC

Pune FC

Pune FC will aim to clinch their first-ever overseas title when they face Bangladesh’s Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi in the showpiece final of the 2014 King’s Cup at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu, Bhutan on Tuesday.

Having held their nerves till the end to qualify for the final with a 7-6 sudden death win over Mohun Bagan, Pune FC will hope to sign off in style with their first ever trophy.

Moreover, playing in the final of the biggest sporting event in Bhutan in front of members of the nation’s Royal Family will definitely provide additional motivation on Tuesday.

Playing their second final of the season after the Durand Cup, Pune FC come into the game on the back of five consecutive wins in the competition, and will be eager to maintain the winning run.

However, the task at hand won’t be an easy one against a strong Sheikh Jamal side who come into the game having brushed aside defending champions MMC, Nepal in the semifinals.

While both sides were stretched into the extra time in the semifinals, Sheikh Jamal carry forward the advantage of having an extra rest day ahead of the big final. On the other hand, it will be a tough situation for Pune FC who were not only pushed to extra time but were even involved in a penalty shootout on Sunday.

“We are playing our second tournament in less than a month, and we have to deal with issues like fatigue and injuries. But the players have had a right attitude and their approach has been professional throughout,” said Coach Karim Bencherifa after a training session at the Changlimithang Stadium in Thimphu on Monday.

Despite having just one day for preparation ahead of the final, Pune FC will hope to get maximum out of the situation having encountered similar conditions in the past.

“We are excited to be in our second final in less than a month. But Jamal also are a fantastic side. Being the biggest club in Bangladesh, they attract top local players and love to play good football. So, it will be a good game on Tuesday,” added Coach Bencherifa.

On the team news front, Pune FC doesn’t have any major injuries to worry about. A few niggles apart, the squad of twenty-two will give Coach Karim Bencherifa plenty of options ahead of the final.

With striker Prakash Thorat too getting on the scoresheet in the previous game, he joins fellow attackers Eric Brown, Ryuji Sueoka and Thongkhosiem Haokip among the goals which gives Coach Bencherifa a strong frontline.

On the other hand, Sheikh Jamal, coached by A. K. M. Maruful Haque, will be confident ahead of the clash having secured consecutive wins over Mohun Bagan and MMC, Nepal.

Going into the game, the 2013-14 Bangladesh Premier League Champions, will be banking heavily on the foreign quartet of Darboe Landing, Daniel Sirin, Wedson Anselme and Emeka Darlington to shine. The attackers will definitely be a challenge for the Pune Fc defense led by skipper Anas Edathodika and Luciano Sabrosa.

For Pune FC, this will be the second time they face a team from Bangladesh. Having beaten another Bangladeshi side Abahani Ltd, Dhaka earlier in the competition, Pune FC will hope for a similar result.

En route to the final Pune FC overcame defending champions MMC, Nepal (2-1), Ugyen Academy, Bhutan (1-0), Assam Electricity Board (5-0) and Abahani Ltd, Dhaka (2-0) in the Group Stage before beating Mohun Bagan 7-6 in a semifinal shootout.

The big final, which will be played under floodlights, will kick off at 17.00 locla time (16.30 IST) on Tuesday.