An intriguing contest is on the cards as former champions Salgaocar FC take on Pune FC in the final Group B league match of the 36th Federation Cup football tournament at Tilak Maidan here on Wednesday.
At stake is a place in the semifinals against Dempo SC. The two sides last met in the finals of the Durand Cup in November when Salgaocar emerged triumphant courtesy a solitary Saran Singh goal.
Pune FC are currently placed third in the group with four points and go into the game knowing that nothing short of a win will be enough to see them through.
On the other hand, Salgaocar are placed second with six points and need only a draw to secure a semi-final berth.
Salgaocar went down 2-3 on the opening day to Bengaluru FC, but have since re-grouped and won their last two outings against Shillong Lajong (2-1) and Mohun Bagan (4-1) respectively.
In the last match against Mohun Bagan, after being a down a goal, the Greens put up a spectacular second half display to thump the Kolkata giants.
Pune FC, on the other hand, started off with a win against Shillong Lajong, but have since managed only a single point from their last two encounters, having drawn against Mohun Bagan and lost to Bengaluru FC.
“Getting to the semifinals and beyond is no doubt important but we are solely focussed on our final league match for now. We have laid emphasis on getting the basics right and will look to put in a good performance tomorrow. Hopefully the result will take care of itself,” said a cautious Salgaocar coach Derrick Pereira.
Salgaocar were backed by a vociferous crowd in their last game and they will hope for a similar turnout when they take on Pune on Wednesday.