FC Pune City’s attack has already turned several heads this season in the Indian Super League (ISL). They scored two in their opening game followed by four and another two goals.
In Emiliano Alfaro, they have one of the best strikers in the league who isn’t just a fox in the box but someone who keeps running at you throughout the 90 minutes. Marcelinho is a top draw player when it comes to ability on the ball and has time and again shown that he is amongst the best to ply his trade in the ISL.
However, on Sunday, the attacking duo’s threat was negated by John Gregory’s Chennaiyin FC. Except for the offside goal scored by Alfaro and the free-kick attempts by Marcelinho in each half, the duo couldn’t really get behind the Chennai back-line.
Mailson Alves and Henrique Sereno kept a close check on Pune’s attack and they were ably supported by the young Jerry Lalrinzuala and the experienced Inigo Calderon. Francis Fernandes too negated the threat posed by Lalchhuanmawia Fanai as the left-back wasn’t allowed to make surging runs in attack.
The game was won in the midfield where Dhanpal Ganesh, a former Pune FC product and Bikramjit Singh continued to harry the Pune attackers. Not only did they close down the spaces, they didn’t shy from tackling which didn’t give Pune’s players much time on the ball.
Adil Khan and Marcos Tebar couldn’t make any impact, especially in the second half, given the fact that the club was playing their fourth game in 11 days.
Since the horrid first half against FC Goa where they lined-up in a 3-5-2 formation and played into the opposition’s hands, the southern club have been defensive solid. Credit must go to Gregory for identifying the mistake and thereby, making his team a sturdy unit who are difficult to break down.
FC Pune City coach Ranko Popovic didn’t have enough firepower on the bench to ring in the changes. What would concern the Serbian coach is the manner in which they conceded the goal. Vishal Kaith had a horrendous performance between the sticks while Adil Khan failed to keep Sereno in check from a corner.
Had not been for the experience of Rafa Lopez, Pune would have lost the game by at least a three-goal margin as he was forced into two goal-line clearances. The Orange and Purple brigade would get some much needed rest now before they next host Bengaluru FC in what promises to be a cracking tie.