Both managers are expecting an exciting game on Sunday evening between two of the league’s form teams.
FC Pune City head coach Ranko Popovic and Chennayin FC head coach John Gregory addressed the media ahead of the two teams’ encounter in the Indian Super League on Sunday at the city’s Belwadi Stadium.
Asked whether Chennaiyin’s good record in Pune will have a bearing on the game Popovic was straightforward, “One more reason to be motivated. All the things in the past can be a source of motivation and the biggest motivation should be to get the three points tomorrow.”
He has also hinted at the importance of supporters attending the match and appreciated the turnout in the Maharashtra Derby. “A club without supporters is not a club, football can’t be there without supporters”, he added.
When asked about his opinion on the tight schedule of the team in the initial stage of the tournament and the resultant fatigue issues he replied,”I don’t see any reasons to drop points tomorrow. We must try to win tomorrow’s game irrespective of the points table.”
The home side has had some squad depth issues with players sidelined due to injury. The head coach had clear views on the issue. “I’m not someone who favours rotation. We will have played four games in just 11 days so I won’t favour this squad rotation in such a short span of time”, the Serbian added.
These two teams played each other in a pre-season friendly in the lead up the season. About that match Popovic said, “We have played each other in pre season and they are a strong team with strong and physical players, they are one of the most physical sides in the league. We are not that strong physically but will try to take on them since it is our home pitch.”
The head coach is approaching 100 wins in management. The Serbian took the opportunity to reflect on the qualities he considers essential in a good manager. “Good attitude as a coach is very important. No heavy mindset needed, you need to have that confidence to consistently win games and perform constantly.”
Asked what would enable him to class the season a success he said, “Success for me will be winning the game tomorrow. We are in a good situation and we are doing well right now. I don’t want to think too much about scenarios. I’m not a movie director. I’m a coach of a football team. I don’t like to think about too many changes, but they must be done when needed.”
Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory is aware of the threat Pune’s two frontmen Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro will pose to his side. The visitors have struck good form too after a disappointing 2-3 loss to FC Goa in the opener and the coach believes his team needs to keep things tight at the back.
“We need to be at our best against Pune. Two of their boys have grabbed all the headlines in the last couple of games. Alfaro and Marcelinho are playing outstanding. They have scored goals between them. And we’ll certainly need to be at our best to try to keep those two quiet,” said Gregory.
When asked if Pune’s gruelling fixture list that has seen them play three games in eight days will be an advantage to his side Gregory simply brushed it off.
“They are on a very good run at the moment. When the games come, the players are always ready. When you are winning, when you are playing really well, scoring lots of goals, you can get up and play the next morning. I don’t think it really matters,” he said.