ISL 2017-18: FC Pune City look for victory in clash against NorthEast United to stay in top-four
Pune badly needs to win to arrest their downward slide from the top four. A defeat for Ranko Popovic's side would also give other teams, the scope to sneak into the last four.
Guwahati: FC Pune City will look to put aside their loss to Kerala Blasters as they prepare to face NorthEast United in an all-important Hero Indian Super League game on Wednesday.
Pune badly needs to win to arrest their downward slide from the top four. A defeat for Ranko Popovic's side here would also give teams like Jamshedpur FC and FC Goa, who are hot on Pune's heels, the scope to sneak into the last four.
It will be interesting to see whether that happens, but Pune would like to take heart from their 5-0 thumping of the Highlanders in their last encounter.
Another heartening aspect is that though Pune have lost more games (five) than any other side in the top four, they have lost only once on the road.
Asked about their loss to the Blasters, who are ninth in the table, Pune's assistant coach Vladica Grujic said position on the table does not reflect a team's quality.
"They have a new coach and are developing game after game. So they are in fact a very difficult opponent.
"The fact that they are playing without pressure, compared to those who are fighting for the top four, is something very very dangerous for us," the Serbian said.
As for the NorthEast coach Avram Grant, he was honest about how he wants his side to be a thorn for every other team.
"For us every game is important and we are playing teams who are above us or in the top four.
It is difficult, but our target is to be difficult for the other teams. Our last game was a good one because we came back from goals down twice in the game," Grant said.
NorthEast are mathematically still in with a chance of making it to the top four but Grant said the focus is on the match in hand.
"The paper belongs to the paper, but the pitch belongs to us. We are far behind but the first job is to play the way we are playing, as far as the result is concerned, whatever is to happen, will happen. We are not thinking too much about that [making the top four]," said Grant.
But deep down even Grant realises that the team will certainly need to aim for maximum points at home to stand any chance of reaching the semi-finals.
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