Pune City ready for Mumbai challenge

FC Pune City's head coach David Platt predicted that this year’s ISL would be as "tight" as the inaugural season. "The League is going to be very tight, it was tight last season also and each team has only 14 games to prove its worth."

FC Pune City coach David Platt was confident about his team's first match against Mumbai City FC.   -  Vivek Bendre

FC Pune City’s head coach David Platt seems focussed on matters under his control than thinking too much about the opposition. “We worked hard pre-season and I am interested in seeing whether performance matches the efforts, not about the quality our rivals have.”

He was referring to Pune’s first match at Balewadi stadium, which kicks off tomorrow amidst high expectations. “We have studied Mumbai City, they have a set of characters whom we need to deal with.”

One of them would be the former Chelsea forward Nicolas Anelka, player-cum-manager of Mumbai City. “Anelka and I played together for Arsenal. As a player, he was super talented individual. He needs to be dealt with respect because he can change the course of any match in one magical moment,” noted the FCPC coach, making his debut in the ISL.

He was curious about how Anelka will stand up to the demands of being a coach-cum-player. “I have not faced him before as coach. It is tough to do both. If I was also playing, I would be very critical on myself the way I would deal with others on the team,” said Platt.

The former Arsenal star predicted that this year’s ISL would be as “tight” as the inaugural season. “The League is going to be very tight, it was tight last season also and each team has only 14 games to prove its worth.”

The home team will go into Monday’s opener without the services of three Indian internationals--Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Jackichand Singh and Pritam Kotal as they are leaving the country for India's 2018 World Cup qualifying round game against Turkmenistan on October 8 at Ashgabat. “The proudest moment for any footballer is when a chance comes to represent his country,” the coach said.

Platt was unfazed about minor fitness problems for striker Adrian Mutu, hinting that the Romanian may come in later.

For Mumbai City, the choice of the goalkeeper is going to be crucial to counter the Pune City strike force. Subrata Paul’s non-availability leaves the door open for Mohun Bagan star Debjit Majumder or Albino Gomes, an India U-23 talent from Salgaocar.

MCFC assistant coach Oscar Bruzon and senior player Andre Moritz sounded confident about the duo. The latter said: “Competition is always good for the team. Subrata is the national team goalkeeper, so whoever plays and performs improves his chances of being considered for the national team. The team management and coaching staff have confidence in Debjit and Albino.”

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