Pune Football Club (PFC) are placed with Meghalayas Ar-Hima Football Club and Pailan Arrows in Group-C for the 116th edition of the IFA Shield,which begins in Kolkata on Sunday.
Incidentally,the tournament is the fourth oldest club competition in the world. (The competition began in 1893) after the English and Scottish FA Cups and the Durand Cup.
This is the third time (previously 2009-10 and 2010-11) Pune FC will participate in this annually held calendar tournament and begin their campaign against Pailan Arrows on March 4 at East Bengal Ground and then I-League Second Division side Ar-Hima Club on March 6 at Howrah Stadium.
The tournament will feature 12 teams seven elite I-League teams divided into four groups of three teams who in turn will participate in a round-robin league wherein the respective group toppers qualify for the semi-finals.
While Pune FC find themselves in a tougher group,the other Group-B comprises defending champions Churchill Brothers,Goa last editions runners-up Mohun Bagan,Chirag United,Aryan and Salgaocar SC,Goa.
The 16-day tournament,concludes on March 16th,offers the winners a purse of Rs 20 lakh,while runners up will get 15 lakh. The two semi-finalists will get Rs 5 lakh each. The venues for the tournament are the Yuba Bharati Krirangan,Howrah Stadium and the East Bengal Ground.
In earlier editions,Pune FC had exited in the group stage itself. In 2009-10,they lost to Air-India 2-1 and won the second league game against AS Douanes,Senegal 2-0. Pune FC finished second behind Air-India with three points. Last year,Pune FC beat Prayag United SC 1-0,lost to Mohun Bagan 0-2,defeated Techno Aryan 1-0,before losing out to Shillong Lajong 1-2 in a must-win game to make it to the semi-finals.