Pune FC are gearing up for their first home game in almost a month, as they prepare to take on Sporting Clube de Goa on Sunday at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sivaji Stadium.
The Red Lizards’ coach, Derrick Pereira is pleased to be back to Pune and was content with the side’s display during the three away games against Shillong Lajong, United Sikkim and Prayag United.
“Performance wise we played according to the condition. We are more comfortable on natural turf but we played on astro-turf at Shillong and Gangtok. The conditions also were cold in the two places. But we got good results and fought well. The boys showed good mentality," said Derrick.
A brake was applied on the momentum the side was steadily gathering, when Prayag United defeated them 2-0 in Kalyani. The former Mahindra United coach though, felt that the team was suffering from the aftermath of a long journey from Sikkim, and hence were not at their 100% for the game.
He told Goal.com, “From Gangtok we travelled immediately for Kalyani after the match. We have learned an important lesson about recovering after games, as we took a full day to reach Kalyani, and I think that took a toll on the squad. I still think the boys played well and defended well but we struggled upfront. Overall it was a good set of games.”
Looking forward to the game against the Flaming Oranje, Pereira refused to discount the Goans as an easy opponent, stressing how the team always focusses on one match at a time.
The Pune FC coach stated, “See, every game we try to give our best. We are working hard to get back the momentum we lost against Prayag, the boys are all focused and I think we should do well. We don’t think on those terms (big or small team). For us every match is important, so we have to focus on our performance and work hard and concentrate on the job at hand.”
Pereira revealed Pune FC are not expected to be too involved in the transfer window...
The Goan was also non-committal regarding any moves that the club might make during the transfer window and revealed, “We may try to see if something happens in the next two games, they (the next two games) are crucial, all the players are working hard but if the right player is available we might think of it. We have got enough players, but we will look after the next 2 games and then see if any spot needs to be filled.”
The topic that is on every Indian football aficionados’ lips is the recent verdict by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) regarding Mohun Bagan's ban being rescinded.
Derrick Pereira was wary about commenting on the issue, but mentioned, “ Mohun Bagan were initially given a 2 year ban. I felt the AIFF had followed certain rules but also that it was harsh. However those were the rules.”
“But the competitive edge would have gone missing without Mohun Bagan and the rivalry between them and East Bengal would have been missed. It is AIFF’s decision & I won’t comment on it but as a coach I will prepare to compete with them,” he further added.
The Pune FC coach also gave his opinion regarding the possible expulsion of Air India and ONGC from the league, as the two clubs have failed to satisfy Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) licensing criteria.
Pereira opined, “I think to get to the top level, we have to follow norms and we have to be firm on rules. We are looking to raise our levels and the AFC has put these rules. Some new teams are also coming up, and there will be opportunities for them if they fulfill all the required criterion.”
One of those new teams that could be joining the fray are DSK Shivajians from Pune. The Red Lizards’ coach though is not perturbed about them eating into their fanbase. He opined, “In Goa, if we can have 4-5 teams, then in Pune there are enough facilities for two teams. The more the competition, the better it is for the level of the game in Pune.”
“A lot of interest will be generated amongst Puneites and it is good for football in Maharashtra,” Pereira concluded.
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