Pune: FC Pune City will aim to begin their Indian Super League campaign with a win, when they take on Delhi Dynamos at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune, on Wednesday.
Pune have so far managed just one win out of six matches against the Dynamos and will hope to improve their record, given they have signed three players who played for Delhi last season.
“I’m excited about our first match. We have had enough time to prepare. The players are also very excited. I hope we’ll be able to do what we want to,” said Pune coach Ranko Popovic ahead of the match.
The ‘Stallions’ have an added advantage of playing their first match at home but the Serbian gaffer thinks otherwise. “I don’t think it is an advantage. If you want to win, you have to play well both home and away,” he said.
“Yes, at home we’ll have more support to win all three points. But that does not change the way we’ll play,” he added.
Nonetheless Popovic has enough pace down the wings, in Kean Lewis and Marcelinho, both of whom were the stars for the ‘Lions’ last season, scoring a total of 14 goals in total and add to that Spanish midfielder Marcos Tebar. Pune have signed three match winners from the heart of the capital all of whom have the ability to win a match in their own, something that Delhi head coach Miguel Angel Portugal regrets after Tebar signed for Pune, despite numerous tries from Portugal himself.
“FC Pune City is a good team. Marcelinho and Marcus Tebar- I spoke to him for signing for my team but FC Pune City paid more money,” he said.
Miguel is however extremely pleased with the condition of his squad after the two-month pre-season campaign in Spain and Qatar.
“It’s our first match and for us, it is important to start well. We had a two-month long preseason in Spain, Qatar and India. This first match is a test for what’s the performance of my team. Now the team is in position to play. Kalu (Uche) is good. Guyon (Louis Ursmarus Fernandez) is good. Everyone is fine,” said the Delhi gaffer.
Delhi were on a sweet run last season but still field to make the finals despite reaching the play-offs twice in three seasons and for the Spanish manager Miguel Angel Portugal, that will be the target.
“It is important to start well. This first match is the test for what is my team is capable of. I think the competition is very balanced. The way I see it, anyone can win it,” he added.
They have built a good team this season and led by Nigerian forward Kalu Ulche, they will aim for the title this season. Talking about their opposition, Popovic said, “Pune is a good team. They have some very good players in like Marcelinho and Alfaro in their squad. It’s a difficult place (Pune) to come and play.
“We will try to win for me that is important. But this is the first game so we’ll see how it goes. We’ll also have to uncover how other teams in the competition play,” he concluded.