Both managers stressed that it was business as usual for them although they accepted a Derby Day win will matter more to the fans.
One of the most awaited fixtures in the Indan Super League (ISL) this season, is the Maharashtra derby. FC Pune City lock horns with fiery neighbours Mumbai City FC. Both managers met the press ahead of the game and were looking confident, as both teams are coming into this fixture on the back of a win. Pune City were a dominant force at the Salt Lake Stadium as they coasted to a 4-1 win over ATK. Whereas, Mumbai City came out on top against Goa at home with a 2-1 win.
Pune City manager, Ranko Popovic started the proceedings and he was delighted with the away win in Kolkata. He stated that he was keen for the team to concentrate on one game at a time and this match against Mumbai will be the second home match for the Stallions so they want to put up a good performance and do not want to disappoint the fans like they did in the defeat to Delhi Dynamos last time out.
The Serbian manager praised the players for coming away with a crucial win from Kolkata, and he also pointed out that the club has not enjoyed a good record away from home, but he believes it will change in the future. When he was asked about the role of the spectators in the game he said ” It depends on the personality of the players. Some of them like playing in a fully-packed stadium, while others feel afraid seeing a large number of spectators. Personally, for me home and away matches are all the same.”
When asked about his views on the Maharashtra Derby, the 50-year-old Serbian said “The earlier victory is now behind us. We had earned a crucial three points, but now we need to look forward. We need to look into the future. It’s a different game, different emotion and another crucial three points are at stake for both teams. We are here to score goals and win matches and whom we are facing doesn’t matter.”
Popovic was also questioned about the lack of experience in his goalkeeper Kamaljit Singh. Only 21-year old, Kamaljit is among the inexperienced shot-stoppers in the league, but the coach backed him as he said, “Experience is something that we cannot buy and age is something we cannot change but how to go with your age is important and for me every one of them is important.”
When quizzed on whether there’s any extra pressure on star-man Marcelinho Popovic calmly said that he believes that football is a team game and he wants to have a marquee team. He was happy with the players he has at his disposal, be it Marcelinho, Emiliano Alfaro, Marrcos Tebar, Adil Khan or anyone else. He praised Baljit Sahni and Gurtej Singh for their performances in the match against ATK.
Talking about playing Baljit at full-back which is not his natural position, he said the veteran is very versatile and can play multiple positions. The Serbian manager likes his players to be flexible and be ready to play wherever he wants them to play.
Mumbai City manager, Alexandre Guimaraes was asked about the home victory against FC Goa last time out, to which he answered, “It was a very important home fixture for us, because now we have three away fixtures and we knew that we needed maximum points from our home games.”
Talking about Pune’s fiery goalscoring record the Costa Rican said that their opponents are very clinical and that leaves them with a minimum margin for errors. He was full of praise for goalkeeper Amrinder Singh‘s performance between the sticks, as the 24-year had an impressive outing against the Gaurs.
Mumbai had the best defense last season but they have failed to keep a clean-sheet so far this season. Talking about this, the 58-year-old said, ” Football keeps on changing every day and cannot be same to what it was in the previous year.”
“All teams have lost players because of the draft and it takes time for new players to adapt to their new team,” he added. He also mentioned the absence of defender Aiborlang Khongjee who is out as he will be going through surgery on his knee. The 30-year-old defender was a vital cog in Mumbai City’s defense last year.
When asked about the mindset of the players ahead of the match he concluded, ” I consider all matches of the same importance and right now this is a game we want to win. We won here last season and we have a lot of respect for our opposition, but we will again look for a positive result.”