Both teams go into the encounter after securing wins over quality sides in the last round. Pune FC rocked Dempo SC 5-1 in Goa, while Prayag pipped East Bengal 1-0.
“I kept on telling the side to stick to plan and not get carried away. Every match has a challenge of its own,” said Pune FC Coach Derrick Pereira.
While Pune FC’s need of the hour will be to keep their confidence in check, the Kolkata side is not short of match-winners after investing heavily to group the best for this season.
Both teams occupy positions just below the top-3 with Pune boasting of a three-point advantage over Prayag, something they are keen to increase.
Prayag’s main threat, whom the home defence will need to keep under check, is undoubtedly the I-League top-scorer Ranti Martins. Having individually topped in the two seasons, Ranti so far has 14 goals to his credit.
While Ranti’s one-man effort is a task every opponent keeps an eye on, Prayag has also also the likes of C Vineeth, Carlos Hernandez, Shankar Oraon, Lalkamal Bhowmick, Mohammad Rafique, Asif Kottayil and Sukhen Dey.
Pune goes into the match with a six match unbeaten streak and seek to get back to winning ways at home. The visitors, on the contrary, have had an uneven run ever since new coach Dutchman Eelco Schattorie took charge.
After winning their first two games under the new coach, Prayag hit a lean patch with only a point from the following four games, before toppling the then-unbeaten East Bengal.
The game is the second between Pune FC and Prayag this year after the Federation Cup in September which ended in a 1-1 draw.Published 21 Dec 2012, 18:33 IST