Pune, Apr 11 IBNS | 8 months ago

Pune FC striker Prakash Thorat earned a unique distinction when he started in the AFC Cup encounter against Nay Pyi Taw FC at the Paung Laung Stadium, Myanmar.

In doing so, the city born lad became the first Pune player to play in the continental championship.

The opportunity on Tuesday was Prakash's second start for Pune FC, after making his debut in the 2013 Durand Cup in New Delhi.

Prakash said, "The feeling was terrific. I never expected it, but heart of heart I knew that my hard work will be rewarded... it was just a matter of time. Figuring in an AFC Cup... To be honest, I did not expect."

Prakash, has so far, logged a total of five appearances in all competitions for Pune FC this season.

"I was the fourth striker recruited in the squad and all the while I wondered when my chance would come. However, I stuck to my job of practicing hard. Never missed practice and when on the pitch always put in my best," he said.

"During the pre-match practice, Coach Mike Snoei mentioned to me that I have been working hard over the past four to five months, including times when the team was away, before telling me the big news that I was playing," he said.

For the record, Prakash, who is Pune FC's third city-born player to figure in the senior squad, went on to log full 90-minutes and almost got on the score-sheet late in the game, but was denied by the opponent goalkeeper who saved his header from point-blank range.

"Honestly, I felt a lot of pressure when I was told that I will start. I had not played for a long time and thoughts ran amok in my mind. But then Coach (Mike Snoei) assured me; don't worry. Just go out and play and I'll direct," he said.

"The standard was higher than expected overall. It took a while to settle but then I enjoyed the game," the player said.

"Once on the field I was confident and felt I could score as well, but then I told myself to be content with what was on hand and went about my job focusing overall," he said.

Having played out a historic personal first for both himself as well as Pune FC and the city, Prakash is composed.

"I am feeling nice to be part of the team now. I would want like to do more for the team, but I know I have to be patient," he explained.

(Posted on 11-04-2014)

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