ABOUT FC PUNE CITY
Seeking to overturn their forgettable performances in the first two seasons of the Indian Super League, FC Pune City has hired Spaniard Antonio Lopez Habas as their first team coach. Habas, who needs no further introduction to the ISL fans, formerly managed the 2014 champions Atletico de Kolkata and also entered the semifinals of the 2015 edition. Habas is considered to be one of the most successful coaches in the ISL History.
The past season for the Stallions can be characterized best in one word – Forgettable. Although their preparations were strong – Bringing in David Platt, a premier league title winner, as their Head Coach, marquee acquisition of Adrian Mutu to fire in goals along with Tuncay Sanli, Didier Zokora, Roger Johnson and Nicky Shorey that added to the strong Indian players in the squad including Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Jackichand Singh and others.
Despite a strong start to the 2015 edition, winning four of their first six games, they dipped to the bottom half of the table rather drastically. They could amass only three points from their next eight games which meant they finish the league in the seventh position, above the Kerala Blasters.
The Stallions had signed former Chelsea player and Iceland striker Eidur Gudjohnsen as their marquee player, however he picked up an injury during their pre-season training in Spain and is certain not to be available for the season. The Hrithik Roshan owned side also lost defender Andre Bikey due to injury during the preseason.
Notable are the signings, Jesus Tato and Pitu who are both the products of the famous La Masia Academy of FC Barcelona. Other notable foreign recruits include the Brazilian defender Eduardo Fereira, Mexican striker Anibal Zurdo, Argentine midfielder Gustavo Oberman and Senegalese striker Momar Ndoye. They have also signed custodian Edel Bete who has already won two ISL titles so far, Bruno Arias from the North East United and the Brazilian Jonatan Lucca who played for FC Goa in the past season.
The key Indians in the squad include Augustin Fernandes, Rahul Bheke, Sanju Pradhan, Francis Fernandes, Arata Izumi, Narayan Das, Raju Yumnam and Zodingliana Ralte.
FC Pune City will begin their ISL 2016 campaign in the Maharashtrian derby against Mumbai City FC on October 03, 2016. After going on a visit to Goa for the next game, they will play at home for their next three games. They will finish their home outing in the group stages on November 18, 2016 against the Dynamos and will finish their league campaign with three away games against North East United FC, Kerala Blasters and Atletico de Kolkata.
The preseason training and conditioning and the practice games were conducted in Spain and Pune and the Stallions achieved good results among the teams in the Spanish lower divisions. However, it remains to be seen, as to how Antonio Habas will maintain his strong record in the ISL with the already injury plagued team.
Goalkeepers: Steve Simonsen, Arindam Bhattacharya, Lalit Thapa
Defenders: Govin Singh, Diego Colotto, Roger Johnson, Pritam Kotal, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Gurjinder Kumar, Gouramangi Singh, Nicky Shorey
Midfielders: Didier Zokora, Manish Maithani, James Bailey, Israil Gurung, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Sushanth Mathew, Bikash Jairu, Lenny Rodrigues, Fanai Lalrempuia
Forwards: Kalu Uche, Adrian Mutu, Jackichand Singh, Tuncay Sanli, Wesley Verhoek, Yendrick Ruiz