Yumnam Raju, Sanju Pradhan eager to hit the ground running

Sportstar caught up with FC Pune City’s two latest recruits, Yumnam Raju and Sanju Pradhan for an exclusive interview on their expectations after joining a new team, the ISL experience as well as their prediction for the EURO 2016. Here is what they had to say:

Yumnam Raju is no stranger to the city, having played in the I League for Pune FC and the defender said it was a factor in his decision to sign for FC Pune City.

Having played for ATK and NorthEast in the first two season, this is Sanju Pradhan's third club in as many seasons and the winger is up for the new challenge.

Sportstar caught up with FC Pune City’s two latest recruits, Yumnam Raju and Sanju Pradhan for an exclusive interview on their expectations after joining a new team, the ISL experience as well as their prediction for the EURO 2016. Here is what they had to say:

Yumnam Raju:

Question: What are your expectations after joining FC Pune City?

Answer: I have high expectations from the club; we hope to perform well in the coming season. The club has great facilities and also a good training staff led by coach Antonio Habas, so it’s natural to have high expectations. I hope we can live up to them.

How has the experience of sharing the dressing room with foreign players and international stars been so far?

It has been a great experience so far and we get to learn a lot from these international stars. They are always ready to talk to us and teach us new things. They share their experience and what they have learnt in their career with us which helps in our growth as a player as well.

Who is your favourite international star and which of his qualities do you like?

For me it's Lionel Messi, I think he performs well consistently and is always calm on the field even in tense situations. Another characteristic of him which I like is that he doesn’t go down easily when tackled and doesn’t dive on the field.

You have played for Pune FC before in the I-League, do you think that will be an advantage and help you settle in FC Pune City?

It will be a big advantage for me; in fact one of the reasons why I moved to FC Pune City was because Pune FC was a great experience for me before. I stayed in this city for a year and I liked it. I will hope to use that experience to my advantage when settling in with my new club.

With only four teams remaining, what is your prediction for the EURO 2016?

I think Wales is my favourite. With Gareth Bale in form and the team playing together like a unit, I feel the side will be tough to beat and is my favourite to win the EURO.

Sanju Pradhan:

You have played for Antonio Habas in ATK, how does it feel to be playing under him again?

I enjoyed playing for him in ATK, he is a tough coach and a thorough professional. He likes to keep players under control and makes them follow the system. As we have seen, he has achieved good results which include winning the title in the first season. I hope he can repeat that with FC Pune City as well and I can play my part for the team.

This is your third club in as many seasons, after ATK and NorthEast United in the first two. Does that make it difficult to settle in a new environment?

It’s a challenge but I love accepting challenges. If I stay at one place then I can take my spot for granted which affects my performances. When you move to a new place, you play with new players and get to learn a lot. I am looking forward to that and I will also try to share my experience with the team.

You have played in the I-League and ISL, where do you feel the pressure is more?

ISL has just one team from each region whereas in the I-League you have various clubs from one region, for example Mohun Bagan and East Bengal. So the pressure is certainly there in both the leagues but rivalry is more intense in the I-league. ISL is a more professional league which is being broadcast around the world; also the clubs are spending a lot of money on the players, so we need to perform to prove our worth. So for me, the pressure is more or less the same in both the leagues.

Do you feel ISL has given more recognition to Indian football?

Definitely, ISL is being telecast on TV and everyone is watching. Fans are watching us on TV and if something is broadcast, it gets you more recognition. Even I-League was good but it was not being broadcast on TV and that’s why it suffered. With ISL, Indian football is getting reported more in the newspapers and is catching the media’s attention which is good for the game.

Finally, what are your predictions for the EURO 2016?

My favourite team is Portugal as my favourite player is Cristiano Ronaldo. But I also like Wales this year as it has performed well despite being an underdog. I want one of these two teams to win the tournament.

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