ISL: Quality matters, not quantity, says Popovic

Ranko Popovic accepted the coaching offer from FC Pune City at a time when the new rule allows more Indians to be named in the playing XI than foreign players (6:5 ratio). The Serbian, however, believes in focusing on the quality of the players — Indian or foreign.

"It is always better to have more Indians since it is important for the league’s development."

Question: You are coaching a new team in a new competition...

Answer: The most important point is the fitness of the players in the pre-season, because they are starting after a long break. The league in India is completely different to other parts of the world because of this long break. You must be prepared for the competition. I think these matches (pre-season) have helped prepare us, see what we want and get the players in good shape. Unfortunately, we have had to deal with a few injuries.

What are your views on the pre-season preparations?

The first and foremost quality the players have is fantastic attitude. They want to learn, are ready to learn quickly and accept the new things we introduced to them. It is the base if we want to do things the right way. The fitness level was not so good considering the level and pace that I like. But we will be in good shape for the tournament.

Since six Indians will be in the starting XI, are you happy with the local talent in the squad?

Six, seven or eight — it all depends on the quality of the players and the situation, not the numbers. It is always better to have more Indians since it is important for the league’s development.

Counting the numbers is not important, the quality and condition is important. The Indians should be in condition to play the ISL and have what we want from them. What qualities these players bring to the squad, like foreign players, should be looked at. Similarly, two really good foreigners who can be good examples for Indians in the team, can help in the development. You need quality, not quantity.

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