Kolkata: FC Pune City unlike the previous seasons have become a tough away side, clinching all available six points from the two matches they played so far in this year’s Indian Super League. But they have failed to replicate the same spirit at home manging just one win from thee games, with other two resulting in 2-3 and 0-1 defeats to Delhi Dynamos and Chennaiyin FC. Irrespective of the previous results head coach Ranko Popovic however considers his side to be the favourites when hey take on ISL newbies Bengaluru FC at the Balewadi stadium on Thursday.
“Bengaluru FC is a wonderful team. They are very strong with good individual players. They have an advantage too since they started a little bit early and had more (competitive) matches. But when we are playing at home, we should be the favourites. We have a job to do,” said the Yugoslavian.
“We have to win. I think the last match we lost at home (against Chennaiyin FC) was more accidental. We played well. I try to be realistic always. What is good is that we are looking better and better,” he added concerned of his team’s home form.
Fielding the right combination for the match will however be another tricky decision Popovic has to make. “Our problem is that we always have some last-minute problems with injuries and illnesses. We cannot field the same XI,” he said aware that he will have to find another player who can replace Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, with the latter shown a red against Jamshedpur.
Pune has already lost defenders Wayne Vaz and Pawan Kumar, to injuries who were replaced by forward Gani Ahmed Nigam and defender Sahil Panwar, recalled from the reserves team.
Popovic however isn’t botherd about combinations. “For me, the only important thing is to think about how to make a win possible against Bengaluru,” he added.
Bengaluru on the other hand are top placed after another 1-0 convincing win against NorthEast United. Tipped by many to be the league favorite this season, coach Albert Roca nonetheless considers Pune to be a tough opposition.
“We expect a tough game. They are at the same level. It’s going to be difficult. Pune has enough experience in their players, also coach, to put us in trouble. That’s what we expect,” he said.
The formidable pair of Marcelinho and Alfaro both of who play for Pune have been central to most of Pune’s goals and Roca having already worked as a B team coach is aware of the threat both of them possess.
“We have studied Alfaro and Marcelinho a lot. We have seen a lot of videos on how to stop them. They are good players. We are ready for that. But we have had a short time to prepare for this game. At the end, an error can cost a lot. We are aware how difficult it is to stop these kind of players,” concluded the Bengaluru FC gaffer.