ISL: Pune braces for Jamshedpur challenge

FC Pune City, placed third after 11 league ties, is not assured of a knockout berth, nor can fifth-placed Jamshedpur FC be ruled out.

Adil Khan has been in sublime form and lends variety to the Pune attack.   -  Prashant Nakwe

Defending champion ATK proved to be an easy kill for FC Pune City (FCPC), as it put up a delightful show in front of the home fans at Balewadi stadium.

Four days later, the next home game against Jamshedpur FC (JFC) may stretch FCPC to the limit.

FCPC, placed third after 11 league ties, is not assured of a knockout berth, nor can fifth-placed JFC be ruled out. The host will have head-coach Ranko Popovic back in the dugout after serving a prolonged suspension. The performance level rose in his absence and the Serbian now has a charged-up bunch of players to choose from.

ISL debutant JFC has shown tremendous potential under coach Steve Coppell, coming back from two goals to beat Delhi Dynamos FC 3-2.

The defeat suffered at Pune's hands in the earlier game matters little since the mood within Coppell’s squad is upbeat going into the match.

Coppell observed: “They have some strong players from the attacking sense, some good players. We need to do our best to deal with that and at the same time make them do some work going the other way.”

He added: “The competition is open for a lot of teams to make the top four. We are one of the pack, looking up enviously.”

Adil Khan, the attacking Pune midfielder, had scored the winning goal against Jamshedpur with a first-time volley from close.

He is in sublime form and lends variety to the attack, with Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro terrific in creating and finishing moves.

Popovic said: “We have played some good games here. If we consider only the result, then it is different.”  He watched from the stands as his players took apart ATK with ridiculous ease.

The visitor's coach switched from Kerala Blasters FC in ISL season three before taking charge of JFC and has succeeded in assembling a talented bunch.

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