NEUFC look to regroup again FC Pune City

While FC Pune City's David Platt has been talking of following a process and controlling the match with a high percentage of ball possession, his counterpart, Venezuelan Cesar Farias – trying to put up a brave face after the 3-1 drubbing at the hands of Kerala Blasters in Kochi – said "Tomorrow is a new match and a new opportunity."

FC Pune City manager David Platt wants to conserve his key player Tuncay Sanli.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

"Now is the moment to seize the inspiration and prepare well to meet the opposition. We can get one or three points. Anything is possible," NorthEast United FC's head coach Cesar Farias said ahead of the team's match against Fc Pune City.   -  H. Vibhu

David Platt is delighted that his team FC Pune City fashioned a 3-1 victory against Mumbai City FC and began their campaign in the Hero Indian Super League on a bright note at the multi-purpose Balewadi Sports Complex.

Succeeding Italian Franco Coloma as the coach of the Pune team, the former England midfielder, restructured the squad and picked up notable campaigners, including the seasoned Turkish professional Tuncay Sanli. The 33-year-old proved his worth with a solid performance, scoring twice off headers in the early phase of the first and the second half here last Monday. The home team’s convincing win in the ‘Maharashtra Derby’ against Mumbai City FC is bound to see them take the field against NorthEast United with plenty of confidence.

While Platt has been talking of following a process and controlling the match with a high percentage of ball possession, his counterpart, Venezuelan Cesar Farias – trying to put up a brave face after the 3-1 drubbing at the hands of Kerala Blasters in Kochi – said “Tomorrow is a new match and a new opportunity.”

Farias added: “It will be a difficult match for us. They (Pune) were better in the last match. They were fluid with the ball and they have an experienced side. They have good control.”

Last year the Guwahati-based NEUFC lost the home match 2-0 to FC Pune City and drew the away match here.

Platt substituted Sanli 15 minutes into the second half against the Mumbai team. “It’s important that we don’t risk injuries. Tuncay (Sanli) and others, who ran all out, needed rest immediately. We wanted to avoid a (Helder) Postiga (ATK) like situation. Lots of factors contributed to the substitution of Tuncay. I wanted to give (Adrian) Mutu some minutes and yes, Mutu is ready for selection tomorrow. It all depends on how the game goes. It’s hot and humid and I think, when you train, you aren’t completely sure of the combination,” said Platt.

Elaborating what he specifically meant by exercising control on a match, Platt said: “Yes, it’s about ball possession; it is important. It helps you to express yourself. We weren’t progressing the way we wanted in the last game and we tweaked things at half-time. When we did have the ball, we kept it well with the players. I am not interested in the stats. We conceded a lot of possession. It’s always good to win.”

Platt refused to hazard a guess in what state of mind the NEUFC players would be. “I’m not aware of last year’s results against NEUFC. I have no idea about their (NEUFC’s) mindset, they’ll want to win. We can’t rest on the last game. The rest was important and we did that,” he said. “You can’t judge by just two games. Now, you have a small opinion, but that’s still incomplete and distorted. We need to wait and analyse who the strong teams are. It’s nice to meet a team who have already played and we have a report on it.”

The home team would be missing Pritam Kotal, Eugenson Lyngdoh, Jackichand Singh, Pronoy Halder and Bikash Jairu, all part of the Indian team for the World Cup qualifier match against Turkmenistan, which is being played in Ashgabat. “It’s sad they’re missing, but I’ve already planned the time without them. I wasn’t aware of Bikash’s absence. As a coach it’s tough to feel the absence of Bikash, but I’m delighted for him, with regards to representing the country. What it shows is that we have a squad capable of immense potential once the players come back. These are very good players.”

Offering his perspective about Friday’s match, Farais said: “The mentality of the players is correct. They grow with the result. It’s a new opportunity for the players. They are inclined to correct whatever happened in the last game. We have to compete and play to our maximum potential tomorrow. We go into the game like any other one. Every game has different tactics. We have played just one game. Now is the moment to seize the inspiration and prepare well to meet the opposition. We can get one or three points. Anything is possible.”