David Platt and his team FC Pune City are brimming with confidence after consistent attacking displays in the home matches.
FCPC has done enough on the turf (four wins, two draws, three losses) to drive home the message that it is the squad to beat for teams aiming to finish in the top four of the Indian Super League.
The visitors will head for Friday’s clash with an unsettled home team Mumbai City FC which is trying to forget the exit of assistant coach Oscar Bruzon and key playmaker Andre Moritz.
The FCPC coach is a firm believer in switching players and formations, even after losing away to Kerala Blasters earlier in the league. “I said after the game (against Blasters) that I was hasty in making decisions when playing the match. It had nothing to do with the rotation policy. We have a group of players from which I pick a team to win a match.”
Match-winner Tuncay Sanli has been used as substitute. Indian internationals Jackichand Singh and Eugeneson Lyngdoh are making an impact with goals and creativity.
Asked to sum up his team’s showing so far, the FCPC coach said: “Every team has gone through a patch where they haven’t been at their best. There are no favourites, so others’ expectations have no consequence for me. Our last few games haven’t seen the right result, but by and large the only game we didn’t perform for any part of the 90 minutes was against Kerala Blasters at Kochi.”
Platt expects sixth-placed Mumbai City to go all-out against his team. “It’s a difficult game for us, away from home against a determined team, so we will have to be disciplined in our play.”
Lyngdoh, Pritam Kotal and Bikash Jairu have not come with the squad, due to national duty for World Cup Asian Zone qualifiers. The Englishman’s rotation policy ensures that there is no shortage of replacements, like the ISL opener against the same opponent without Lyngdoh, Kotal and Jackichand.
Struggling Mumbai City needs a big push to move up from sixth position into reckoning for a knockout place. Anelka’s presence in the dugout attracts cheers from the stands, but an inspiring performance on the turf from him is overdue. “You can expect to see more of me in the ISL’s second part. I think I’ll need more minutes on the pitch to be fitter.”
MCFC’s wayward ways are on the coach’s mind. “Our team is unpredictable. We can be very good on our day, can also be very poor. I hope we’ll see the very good face against Pune,” said the French ace.
Gabriel Fernandes is recovering from strained muscle. It is learnt that internationals Chhetri, Subrata Paul and Lalchhuanmawia Fanai will return from Bengaluru by match day and available for selection.
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