For the second time in four years,PFC will be up against foreign participation in the group stage of the 117th IFA Shield to be played in Kolkata.
PFC is placed in Group-B with Kolkatas Mohun Bagan AC,United Sikkim FC and Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa Sociedad Anónima. The city club opens their campaign against Mohun Bagan on March 5 at Kalyani Stadium.
The Costa Rican side will be the third overseas opposition PFC will play ever since they moved into the elite league. The first was against Senegals Association Sportive Douanes (IFA Shield 2009-10; in Kolkata) and later against Englands Blackburn Rovers (friendly exhibition 2010-11; in Pune). This is the fourth time (previously 2009-10,2010-2011 and 2011-12) PFC will participate in the IFA Shield.
PFC plays Deportivo Saprissa SAD on March 7 at Yuba Bharati Krirangan and later United Sikkim FC in their last league game at the same venue on March 10.
PFC,meanwhile,have named their travelling squad,which includes new striker Boima Karpeh apart from former Pune Football Club Academy graduates David Lalbiakzara (midfielder) and current academy player Gobin Singh (defender). Lalbiakzara has been drafted into the senior squad for this season following time spent training with the squad after finishing with the academy last season.
Singh makes the squad as regular left wing back Gurjinder Kumar is away with the Indian national team at the AFC Challenge Cup (qualifiers). Apart from Gurjinder,striker Jeje Lalpekhlua and midfielder Arata Izumi are away on national duty and are expected to join the squad at the conclusion of the qualifiers.
The tournament features 8 teams – two foreign teams and six elite I-League sides – divided into two groups of four teams who in turn will engage in a round-robin league wherein the top two from the respective groups qualify for the semifinals.
The tournament,offers the winners a purse of Rs 25 lakh,while runners up will get 15 lakh.
The two semifinalists will get Rs 5 lakh each.