AFC Cup Preview: Nay Pyi Taw FC vs Pune FC

Photo Credit: Nay Pyi Taw FC

Venue: Paung Laung Stadium, Naypyidaw, Myanmar

Kickoff: Tuesday, April 8 2014, 15:00 IST

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Photo Credit: Nay Pyi Taw FC

Nay Pyi Taw FC made a solid start to their debut AFC Cup campaign with four points from the opening two games but after losing both home and away against highly-fancied Kitchee of Hong Kong they are on the brink of elimination. The Myanmar club fought well in both their matches with Kitchee but eventually fell short. They have been doing well in the domestic league though as they are currently two points behind leaders Yadanarbon and have a game in hand. Nay Pyi Taw’s Myanmar National League game at the weekend was also postponed and with the league now having a break till June, the four-year old club will be able to focus entirely on the AFC Cup.

The Myanmar outfit showed both character and resilience to earn a 2-2 draw away at Pune FC on matchday one, which was their first-ever continental game as well. So they will be confident of utilising home advantage and beating Pune in this game. That would be a highly significant result considering the fact that Tampines Rovers will be in action against group leaders and favourites Kitchee. Nay Pyi Taw though will have to deal with the tag of being slight favourites unlike the meeting in Pune back in February. They will also be encouraged by the Myanmar national team’s victory over India last year on home soil in the crucial AFC Challenge Cup qualifier.

Win or Bust

Photo Credit: Pune FC

Photo Credit: Pune FC

It has been a dismal 2014 for Pune as they have managed just one in 15 matches and such a dismal run has ended their I-League title challenge prematurely while their hopes of reaching the AFC Cup knockouts are minimal. Pune have drawn eight of those 15 games and that inability to win games could eventually see them finish outside the I-League top five for the first time since making their top-flight debut in 2009. Injuries and suspensions have affected Pune’s campaign but the Red Lizards were still expected to perform better both on the domestic and continental stage. At present the confidence of their young squad is totally shattered.

Pune also haven’t had much help from I-League department in terms of the schedule as Mike Snoei’s side have had plenty of away games between AFC Cup matches and the constant travelling has taken a lot out of their players. They endured a 22-hour journey to reach Myanmar and managed only one training season whereas Nay Pyi Taw will be fresher due to the weekend postponement. Pune made a solid start to their debut AFC Cup campaign with two draws including the remarkable comeback in the away clash against Kitchee on matchday two. But Tampines Rovers did the double over them and now even wins in the last two games may not be enough to progress to the round of 16. An away win in Myanmar could change the mood completely though and also keep their knockout hopes alive but Pune are very much the underdogs.

Form Guide

Nay Pyi Taw FC: WLDWL

After winning seven of their first nine games of the season, Nay Pyi Taw have managed just one victory in their last four fixtures. They have looked strong in the two AFC Cup home games though with a convincing win over Tampines and only a narrow defeat against Kitchee.


Pune are on a nine-match winless streak and have failed to keep a clean sheet in eight of those games. They have scored in each of their two AFC Cup away matches and are looking to avoid a hattrick of losses for the second time this season.

Team News

Nay Pyi Taw FC

The hosts are expected to have South Korean midfielder Jung Yoon Sik and Italian striker Michele Di Piedi available after missing out last week’s clash with Kitchee due to injury. Since they were not in action at the weekend, Nay Pyi Taw coach Myo Hlaing Win doesn’t have to rotate and can pick his best possible eleven.

Possible XI: Van Lar Hrual; Chan Chan, Ye Lin Naing, Latt Ko Ko Aye, Obadin Aikhena, Ni Maung Maung Aung; Jung Yoon Sik, Zaw Lin, Aung Kyaw Naing; Delgado Carlos Alberto; Michele Di Piedi

Pune FC

Pune coach Snoei has hardly had a steady lineup in the last two months due to one reason or the other. The Dutchman also didn’t have the luxury of resting his players at the weekend and even played more than half an hour with ten men in the defeat to Salgaocar on Friday. Australian striker Mirjan Pavlovic only came on as a substitute in that encounter and thus could start this must-win game.

Possible XI: Amrinder Singh; Zohmingliana Ralte, Calum Angus, Anas Edathodika, Gurjinder Kumar; Gabriel Fernandes, Mumtaz Akhtar, Douhou Pierre, Anthony D’Souza; Riga Mustapha, Mirjan Pavlovic

Key Men

Nay Pyi Taw FC: Michele Di Piedi

Di Piedi (no.17) Photo Credit: Nay Pyi Taw FC

Di Piedi (no.17)Photo Credit: Nay Pyi Taw FC

The Italian has settled well in Myanmar football as he is Nay Pyi Taw’s top scorer in the league with six goals. Di Piedi scored in the win over Tampines on matchday two and will be looking to have a similar impact in this game also.

Pune FC: Riga Mustapha

Riga Mustapha (no.7)

Riga Mustapha (no.7)

The experienced attacker has been Pune’s most consistent performer in the AFC Cup with three goals. Without Mustapha’s class and quality, Pune would have found it even more difficult and the former Bolton player must now inspire his side to victory in Myanmar.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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