Pune, April 21 IANS | 7 months ago

Pune FC will be playing for pride and eager to finish their first-ever continental campaign on a high when they host Hong Kong's Kitchee SC in a final round Group H encounter of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup at the Shree Shiv Chhattrapati Sports Complex here Tuesday.

With Kitchee having already qualified for the next round as Group-winners, Pune FC (4th in Group H with three points) will be keen to log their first-ever AFC Cup win and try to improve their position on the table.

Back when both sides met in March at the Mong Kok Stadium, it was Pune FC who staged a phenomenal second half comeback to earn a draw. Despite being two goals down at the break, Pune FC fought hard to earn their first-ever overseas point and will hope to carry forward the same spirit.

Coached by Chu Chi Kwong, Kitchee ply their trade in the Hong Kong First Division League and have recently been crowned as domestic champions. Having already wrapped up the domestic league, the Hong Kong giants will now be focussed solely on their continental campaign and will prove a tough nut to crack.

Moreover, Kitchee come into the game on the back of a 19-match unbeaten run in all competitions and will be full of confidence having thrashed Singapore's Tampines Rovers 4-0 at home a couple of weeks back.

This is Kitchee's third consecutive and fourth overall appearance in the AFC Cup. Till date, their best result in the competition is the quarterfinal appearance in 2013 where they lost 4-2 to Jordan's Al-Faisaly FC over two legs (2012 - Round of 16; 2008 - Group Stage).

On the other hand, making their maiden AFC Cup appearance, Pune FC are at the end of their I-League campaign with only one match remaining.

"Our away game against Kitchee (earlier in the competition) was our best performance. We played an unbelievable second half and had a few chances to win it at the end. We have good memories of the game," said Pune FC coach Mike Snoei.

Going into the game, Pune FC will be missing services of dynamic winger Gabriel Fernandes and Douhou Pierre due to injury. Joining them on the sidelines will be defender Calum Angus who serves a suspension after picking up his second booking of the group stage against Nay Pyi Taw in the previous game.

(Posted on 21-04-2014)

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