Pune Football Club will sport an exciting mix of youth and experience as they gear up for their fourth season of top-flight football in India...With emphasis on retaining most of their first eleven players from last season, the Pune FC management made four new signings for the 2012-13 season, recalled a former player apart from inducting two Peninsula Pune Football Club Academy pass-outs in the 26-man squad.
Pune FC has also released 10 players, some of whom had served out their respective contracts, while others left owing to the management's decision.
Chirag Tanna, Head Operations Pune FC said, “We've put together quite a competitive side, with the replacements equally competitive in the positions they fit into. Moreover with some more positions to be filled signings will take place as per requirement.”
Among the new-signings, South Sudan skipper and striker James Moga is the biggest catch for the season.
|Scored 16 goals for Sporting last season
Likewise, two-ex-India internationals – defender Nallappan Mohanraj (under Bob Houghton) and attacking midfielder Sukhwinder Singh (under Stephan Constantine) add up experience to the squad.
Chennai-born 23-year-old Mohanraj adds his left-footed experience traded over seven seasons in Bangalore and Kolkata to Pune FC’s defence line, while Punjab’s midfielder Sukhwinder Singh is one of the many in the squad who played under Pune FC coach Derrick Pereira in the past.
Youngsters Mumtaz Akthar from Punjab and Goan-lad Vellington Rocha are the other two drafted to power the midfield. Twenty-two year old Mumtaz comes with the experience of spending three years under PPFCA Head Youth Development Ranjan Chowdhury in Jamshedpur, before moving on to Kolkata to be part of honours aplenty and then Sikkim.
Wing-half Vellington returns to the Pune FC fold after a one-year gap when he returned home to trade his skills. The medio possesses the ability of playing on either side flank.
Tanna adds, “We’ve gone about our signings with detail as well as tracking them for long. Now it’s time for them to work as a unit.”
Last-year’s on-loan goalkeeper Abhra Mondal has been brought on-board with a full contract after he excelled under the bar in the testing situation Pune FC got into after two of their ’keepers were injured. Mondal will share responsibility with Shahinlal Meloly and PPFCA’s Amrinder Singh.
|Part of PFC's 11-match unbeaten streak|
“Abhra did extremely well for us under the bar. His signing led to the teams’ impressive 11-match unbeaten run, before injury forced him out. His signing is of vital importance once he fully recovers,” added Tanna.
Graduating into the senior ranks is defender Kamardeep Singh and medio Sujie Kumar, who formed part of the Under-19 I-League title winning squad of 2011-12. While their aim will be to step up and make a name for themselves at senior level, the duo, along with Vellington, have played as juniors at Pune FC a year ago.
Tanna explained, “As promised earlier, players showing promise will always graduate. Both Kamardeep and Sujie earned their places and have a lot of hard work to put in.”
The inclusion of both players takes the total count of PPFCA players moving up to three after Dhanpal Ganeshan was drafted into the squad last season.
With an aim to take off from where they left off last year, the squad will officially begin pre-season training from Monday 16th July, 2012 at the Shiv Chhatrapathi Sports Complex, Mhalunge-Balewadi.
“Yes we are eager and ready for the season ahead,” Tanna added.
PUNE FC SQUAD 2012-13
Goalkeepers: Abhra Mondal, Shahinlal Meloly, Amrinder Singh
Defenders: Othallo Tabia, Srikanth Ramu, Anas Edathodika, Caitano Costa, John Benedick, Chika Wali, Kamardeep Singh, Gurjinder Kumar, Nallappan Mohanraj
Midfielders: Karma Tsweang, Venkatesh Shanmugam, Sujie Kumar, Douhou Pierre, Ganeshan, Mumtaz Akthar, Sukhwinder Singh, Asim Hassan, Maninder Singh, Vellington Rocha
Strikers: James Moga, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Subash Singh, Jeh Williamson
RELEASED: Subrata Paul, NS Manju, Rollingson Hyungyo, Kamaljeet Kumar, Baldeep Singh, Lester Fernandez, Jayashelan Prasad, Paresh Shivalkar, Nirmal Kumar, Mandjou Keita
NEW SIGNINGS: James Moga, Vellington Rocha, Mumtaz Akthar, Sukhwinder Singh, N Mohanraj
PROMOTED UNDER-19s: Kamardeep Singh, Sujie Kumar
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