ISL 2018/19 Team Profile: FC Pune City
After having finished in the semi-finals in the last edition of the ISL, the Stallions led by Miguel Angel Portugal will be looking to make at least one step further than last season by making it to the Grand Finale in this fifth edition of ISL 2018-19. With the former Delhi Dynamos coach in the driver’s seat, FC Pune City looks likes an efficient and effective unit after a hectic pre-season in the AWES Cup. They faced the likes of FC Goa, Salgaocar FC, Sporting Clube de Goa which helped this side to overcome their drawbacks in the defence.
● ROSTER :
Anuj Kumar, Kamaljit Singh, Vishal Kaith, Ashutosh Mehta, Gurtej Singh, Sahil Panwar, Sarthak Golui, Keenan Almeida, Nim Dorjee Tamang, Lalchhuanmawia, Martín Díaz, Matt Mills, Jonathan Vila, Marko Stanković, Shankar Sampingiraj, Rohit Kumar, Adil Khan, Alwyn George, Nikhil Poojari, Gabriel Fernandes, Ashique Kuruniyan, Diego Carlos, Iain Hume, Emiliano Alfaro, Marcelinho and Robin Singh
● SQUAD ANALYSIS :
Vishal Kaith would be in between the sticks for Pune City FC. With his razor-sharp reflexes and commanding presence inside the box, Kaith is an instinctive keeper. FC Pune City would be looking for similar kind of heroics as last season from him. Anuj Kumar and Kamaljit Singh are some notable additions to this department.
With the signings of Matt Mills and Martin Diaz, the Stallions have strengthened their defence. Both these defenders would be bringing in valuable experience and leadership to this backline. Keenan Almeida is another valuable addition to this squad who was part of the title winning Chennaiyin FC last season. Ashutosh Mehta, Gurtej Singh and Lalchhuanmawia are also the other players to watch out for in this department.
○ Midfield :
In the midfield department, Pune has got plenty of new faces this season. The likes of Shankar Sampingiraj, Alwyn George and Jonathan Vila are the new additions to the squad. The presence of an experienced player like Jonathan Vila would bring more solidity to their midfield. The likes of Shankar Sampingiraj and Alwyn George who joined after positive outings at Bengaluru FC would be looking forward in gaining experience at Pune.
○ Forward :
With the likes of Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro, Pune boasts an explosive attacking front among all the teams this season. FC Pune City also added the services of experienced Indian international in the form of Robin Singh to strengthen their front line. With Nikhil Poojari and Ashique Kuruniyan in the squad, they have got the right mix of youth and experience in the forward line. Although Pune City FC has managed to rope in the ISL’s all-time top scorer Iain Hume but the Canadian wouldn’t be able to join the squad till January due to his injury.
● PAST RECORD :
With two sixth-placed and one seventh-placed finishes FC Pune City was only able to land in the lower half of the table in the first three editions of the tournament. The arrival of Ranko Popovic in the previous season inculcated the much-needed diligence to the squad making them finish in the top four. This time around with the arrival of Miguel Angel Portugal, Pune City would be looking to go one step further and reach the Finals.
● COACH’S QUOTE :
“I had a very good experience of India and the ISL last season and I was very impressed with the organisation, facilities, stadiums, fan support and therefore coming back to ISL was a very easy decision for me. There is an abundance of top-class talent at the Club and I look forward to joining the squad soon. The club has retained the core players from last season that qualified for the playoffs and has made very capable additions to the squad. I believe we have a strong team that can challenge for the title this season,” Miguel Angel said.
● FIXTURES :
• 3rd October: Delhi Dynamos Vs Pune City FC – 7:30 PM (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi)
• 19th October: Mumbai City Vs Pune City FC – 7:30 PM (Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai)
• 22nd October: Pune City FC Vs Bengaluru FC – 7:30 PM (Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Pune)
• 28th October: FC Goa Vs Pune City FC – 7:30 PM (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Goa)
• 2nd November: Pune City FC Vs Kerala Blasters – 7:30 PM (Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Pune)
• 6th November: Pune City FC Vs Chennaiyin FC – 7:30 PM (Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Pune)
• 10th November: ATK Vs Pune City FC – 7:30 PM (Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan, Kolkata)
• 21st November: Pune City FC Vs Jamshedpur FC – 7:30 PM (Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Pune)
• 27th November: Pune City FC Vs NorthEast United – 7:30 PM (Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Pune)
• 30th November: Bengaluru FC Vs Pune City FC – 7:30 PM (Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru)
• 7th December: Kerala Blasters Vs Pune City FC – 7:30 PM (Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi)
• 11th December: Pune City FC Vs FC Goa – 7:30 PM (Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium, Pune)
● Writer’s Take:
With the right mix of youth and experience, FC Pune City has got the right balance to proceed much further in the league this time around. The signings of Matt Mills, Martin Diaz, Jonathan Vila and Iain Hume would play a big part in the success of this squad. Although Iain Hume is likely to miss the first phase of the tournament but the likes of Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro upfront would put the opposition’s defence in jeopardy.