Coach Talk: Federation Cup Team Profile - Pune FC starts a new series, where the head coach of the respective team tells you all that you need to know about their team before the Federation Cup...

Derrick Pereira's coaching career began when he began when he took over coaching Salgaocar u-19, a post which he held for two seasons. Pereira went on to coach Vasco SC for five seasons till 2005. Mahindra United came calling next for Pereira where he was in charge until 2009 after which he signed on with Pune FC. This is his fourth year with the club.


Pune FC have lost some big name players this season. Indian custodian Subrata Paul, whose contract had run out, joined Prayag United along with Lester Fernandez for whom the Kolkata outfit had to pay Rs 20 lakhs in transfer fee, making Pune FC the first club to indulge in a transfer deal with a fellow I-League club. Experienced striker Mandjou Keita returned to Malaysia by joining Kelantan FA after 2 years at Pune. The Red Lizards have responded by permanently signing Abhra Mondal, the on-loan goalkeeper from East Bengal, centre back Zohmingliana Ralte from Shillong Lajong, Nallappan Mohanraj from Mohun Bagan and striker James Moga from Sporting Club de Goa. 

Subrata Paul, goalkeeper for the Indian national team

Lester Fernandez(left) was transferred to Prayag United for a fee of Rs. 20 Lakh

Mandjou Keita joined Malaysian side Kelantan FA after 2 years at Pune

Arata Izumi's recently acquired Indian citizenship gives Pune the luxury of adding another foreign player to the ranks. They did just that by signing utility player Daisuke Nishiguchi, a youth product of the famed Cerezo Osaka Academy that also rpoduced Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa, from FC Olimpia Balti Moldova, a side that figures in Divizia Naţională, the top division in Moldovan football. 

Coach Pereira stated that the club was running according to a specified plan where they develop the youngsters and looked to promote football within the city of Pune.


According to Coach Pereira, "Pre-season was good. We had 4 weeks of training here at Pune where the focus was on fitness and team building, followed by a week at Goa where we played 4 good practice games. The Durand Cup in Delhi was next where we managed two draws to finish 2nd in the group." Pune FC's performance at the Durand Cup left a lot to be desired given that they were one of the pre-tournament favourites and made an exit from the group stages itself.


Tactics employed by a coach go a long way to deciding how the team fares in the season. When quizzed about the formation he employs, coach Pereira informed, "We do not employ a rigid system. We are quite flexible with different systems. We generally use a 4-4-2, and change to a 3-5-2 or 4-3-3 system based on our opposition." View

If pre-season line-ups are analysed, it is more likely that Pune FC will employ a standard 4-4-2 during the tournament as well as in the I-League. India international Jeje Lalpekhlua will be ably supported by James Moga and flanked by Karma and Arata. The midfield stalwarts of Sukhwinder Singh and Douhou Pierre provide some much needed experience to the midfield.

At the back Abhra Mondal, provided he recovers in time, will start between the sticks, with Chika Wali and Anas Edathodika expected to provide solidity at the back along with Othallo Tabia and Gurjinder Kumar. Mohanraj will provide a tough competition to Gurjinder for the left back slot.

Subash Singh shall continue to play the role of the supersub while Shanmugham Venkatesh shall provide experience in the midfield when called upon.

Ralte will look to break into the starting eleven while Nishiguchi provides a versatile option in attack for Pereira.


Can Pune's new recruits contribute to a good season?

The Pune FC coach stated, "We have retained most of the players from last season's campaign like Costa and Chika Wali. Nalappan Mohanraj, an attacking fullback, is young and we are very excited to have him in the team. Arata Izumi is an Indian citizen now. So that gives us an extra slot for a foreigner. Daisuke will be a key player as he is a utility man. He can play as a striker, attacking midfielder, or a winger. He is a very handy player to have in the squad." View

James Moga has big shoes to fill as Mandjou Keita was a talismanic figure for Pune FC for the last two seasons. However in his spell with Sporting Clube de Goa, Moga showed that he can be a tricky customer upfront. Douhou Pierre will be expected to carry his top form and with him possibly dropping back into the central midfield position, Pune FC can expect more chances to be created for their attacking players.

Mahesh Gawli had namechecked Anas Edathodika as his successor in the national team after his international retirement. After a shaky start to his Pune FC career, he had a formidable second half of the season and he shall look to continue in the same vein.


Can Pune FC progress from a tough Group D?

Pune FC have been drawn into a tough group that includes the likes of Salgoacar SC, Prayag United SC and United Sikkim SC. Pereira had expressed his thoughts saying, "We have been drawn into a relatively tough group. We will not be underestimating any of our opponents."

When asked about his side's chances in the tournament Pereira informed, "We are working hard to put on a strong show in the Federation Cup. With the right amount of work ethic and team spirit I think we have what it takes to cause a few upsets. Our target is to get to the second round (semi-finals). I think with the squad we have, we are confident of performing well" View

As highlighted by Pereira, Group D has heavyweights in the form of Salgoacar SC and Prayag United who will provide a tough fight to progress to the round of four. Pune FC will not underestimate United Sikkim SC who will look out to show the world that they too are a club that is to be taken seriously and not just to make up the numbers. If they do reach the semi-finals, Pune FC will be satisfied after their poor showing at the Durand Cup.

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