FC Pune City will be eager to secure their place in the semi-finals when they host defending champions ATK in an Indian Super League (ISL) match here on Saturday.
With 16 points from 10 matches, Pune is currently placed third on the league table. However, there are teams who have the capability to knock them out of the top places.
Fourth-placed FC Goa are also on 16 points while Mumbai City FC and Kerala Blasters FC are within striking distance with 14 points each.
With 12 points from nine matches, ATK is also in with a chance to reach the knockout stages.
Pune, in particular, will be even more determined after losing their previous clash against Chennaiyin FC by a solitary goal.
“We didn’t play as good as the first half, we had opportunities but didn’t make use of them,” Pune City assistant coach Vladica Grujic said.
“They would like to work towards not to concede goals in second half,” he added.
From the 11 goals conceded by Pune City so far, 10 have come to haunt them in the second half.
Part of Pune’s problems against Chennaiyin in the previous game was due to the absence of star striker Marcelinho. The Brazilian missed the game due to suspension but will be back to trouble ATK.
It was Marcelinho who scored a double against ATK during the first leg in Kolkata as Pune recorded an astounding 4-1 victory.
That defeat at home would have hurt defending champions but they have since then grown from strength to strength.
Coached by former Manchester United star Teddy Sheringham, ATK struggled during the early part of the season and tasted their first win only during the fifth game.
The slow start hampered ATK’s progress, but they now have a chance to catch up in the league.
“We are here to make amends to the result. We had to deal with the 4-1 loss in the first leg and we want to change that here,” Sheringham said.
Sheringham is aware of his team’s low scoring record this season and is looking at setting things right in this game.
“We haven’t scored goals as much as we would like to. But it’s not a reflection on our strikers. It’s tough to score goals, and we are trying to work on it. We have the strength at the front and we are looking at everything to improve in this game,” he said.
Since their last win over NorthEast United FC, ATK has strengthened their side considerably with the arrival of winger David Cotterill, striker Martin Paterson, and goalkeeper Soram Poirei.
Star striker Robbie Keane is recovering too, providing Sheringham with the perfect ammunition to gun down a place among the top four.