FC Pune City look to set the record straight

record straight

Having failed to reach the last four in three seasons, FC Pune City look to set record straight this year with some impressive strike force signings

record straight

FC Pune City have found wins hard to come by in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL). And the reasons are there for everyone to see. The Stallions have scored only 42 goals in 42 Hero ISL encounters, conceding 56 goals in the process.

Coincidentally, FC Pune City have managed to win just four games in each of their previous three Hero ISL campaigns. Not the kind of form needed to seal a place in the playoffs. So to set things right this season, FC Pune City have adopted a new aggressive approach. Ranko Popovic, who replaced Antonio López Habas as manager in the summer, has laid down a pretty simple strategy for the season ahead: score one more goal than your opponent. The new man in-charge at Pune has promised to play “attractive and aggressive” football in the upcoming season.

“What I want, what we can, and what is expected is the question here. If there is a big gap, then it’s a big problem. We have to bring all the three things closer. My way to play until now was to lead to the game. I don’t believe in waiting or counter-attacks. I like to play football to win the game, always score one more goal than your opposition. Our style, I hope, will be attractive, aggressive and to lead the game,” the Serbian tactician said ahead of his team opening match against Delhi Dynamos on 22 November.

Before coming to India, Popovic has had coaching stints in Serbia, Spain, Japan, and Thailand. The 50-year-old manager comes in with a proven track record and he doesn’t usually need much time to get started. In his first season in charge at second division Spanish Club Real Zaragoza, he took his team to the playoffs. Last year, in his first season in Thailand, he led Buriram United FC to Thai Cup glory.

Also Read: AFC Asian Cup Qualifier: Indomitable India hold buoyant Myanmar 2-2

While Popovic’s is yet to be tested on Indian soil, his shining past record has given high hopes to FC Pune City. The pressure is definitely on Popovic but the new coach isn’t shying away from flaming their hopes further up with only days remaining until the start of the new season.
“There is always pressure to perform, whether you are taking over from a coach or managing a newly formed team. In the end, the idea is to win, whether you have been around with the team for long or you are just joining,” he conceded.

Even though Popovic missed the Hero ISL draft to pick players, he can’t be too unhappy with the choice made by his predecessor Habas. Popovic’s team now boasts of last season’s top scorer Marcelinho in the attack. Uruguayan striker Emiliano Alfaro has come in to add more firepower to the team. To add steel at the back, the Stallions have signed an experienced 32-year-old centre-back Rafael López Gómez. The Spaniard has played for top clubs Getafe and Valladolid in the past.

“I am here with a new bunch of people. We only have two players from the last season, the coaching staffs are new, and most of the players are new. The aim is to first make a good team out of the players we have. But one thing is sure, we will always aim to score one goal more than our opponent,” Popovic said.

Having made their intentions clear, FC Pune will be hoping to get the right results this season. What they have got is an intentful manager and a proven set of players, but what remains to be seen is if they can come all together to make it happen.

Also Read: Football never has guarantees: Albert Roca


Domestic players: Kamaljit Singh, Harpreet Singh Sahota, Gurtej Singh, Adil Ahmed Khan, Ajay Singh, Baljit Sahni, Vishal Kaith, Wayne Vaz, Sarthak Golui, Rohit Kumar, Pawan Kumar, Kean Lewis, Muhammed Ashique Kuruniyan, Jewel Raja Shaikh, Anuj Kumar, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai & Isaac Vanmalsawma.

International players: Rafael Lopez, Marcos Tebar, Jonatan Lucca, Robertino Pugliara, Emiliano Alfaro, Marcelo Leite Pereira, Diego Carlos & Damir Grgic

Reserve players: Bilal Khan, Nitesh Aswani, SK Sajid Hossain, Gani Ahmed Nigam & Sahil Panwar

Key facts

1) Off the 248 left-footed shots at goal they have only scored 8 goals for a conversion rate of 3.22 % whereas their right-footed conversion rate is 15.75 %.

2) In 42 games, they have scored 42 goals making it one goal per match.

3) In the last three seasons they have picked 74 yellow cards and two red cards.

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