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Lajong test for FC Pune City

Bhubaneswar, April 3: Indian Super League semi-filists FC Pune City are ‘smart enough and intelligent’ to swing the tie against Shillong Lajong FC when they face-off in the Super Cup Round of 16 at the Kalinga Stadium here on Wednesday.
Pune’s Serbian coach Ranko Popovic said they ‘have to be top of the game’ to get the better of the ‘young and smart’ Shillong Lajong FC.
“It is a completely different competition. We had an amazing season having finished in the semifils of Hero ISL. This is going be a key battle on the pitch tomorrow. We have to stay motivated to get the result in our way,” he said.
“I believe, we are enough smart and intelligent to get the job done. Meanwhile, we have a fair knowledge of their credentials and we know how much damage they can do. We have to absolutely at the top of our game to proceed further,” the 50-year-old coach added.
On being asked whether Pune will kick-off as the favourites on Wednesday, Popovic brushed it aside, “We have big respect for them. The league standing is not important and it’s history now. A team always pushes their limits when there is only one match to prove their mettle.”
“Lajong has a perfect blend of young as well as experienced players. On the other hand, what made us strong this season is our collective team effort. We’ll stick to our philosophy to overcome our next hurdle,”, Popovic alysed their opponents in front of the media.
“We want to thanks our amazing fans for supporting us throughout. We had the best season in our club’s history and now we want to make it memorable winning this trophy. We want to give something back to the supporters and this one is the perfect occasion to get it done”, he showed his gratitude towards the FC Pune City fans.
Lajong interim coach Alison Kharsyntiew, meanwhile said he sees this a ‘great exposure’ for the young bunch of players and expressed that they are positively looking forward to nothing less than a win.
“It’s a great opportunity to test ourselves against a team like FC Pune City. We have built our team with a young bunch of players. It’s a great opportunity for them to gain experience and a good exposure as well. We’re looking forward to nothing less than a win tomorrow,” the coach sounded confident ahead of the enticing tie.
The heat and the humidity of Bhubaneswar might take a toll on the Lajong players and that’s what giving Alison a sleepless night. IANS

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Ankur Kalita