Players who represented the club during the 2017-18 season dominate the lineup.
There was a time when Pune was a hub for football in India, with multiple teams competing in the top divisions. However, years passed and it was just FC Pune City left to represent the historic city, which it did so in the Indian Super League (ISL).
The Stallions boasted of numerous highly-reputed players since their inception in 2014. Although, the club became defunct after the 2018-19 season, we take a look at their all-time best XI, considering top performers from their five seasons in the ISL.
Goalkeeper: Vishal Kaith
Vishal Kaith came in as a third-choice goalkeeper at FC Pune City in 2016, but made huge progress and earned the No. 1 position before the 2017-18 campaign.
He went on to make 17 starts for the team that season and maintained seven clean-sheets – the joint-most that term. In addition, Kaith’s 70.76% saves percentage helped him make a name for himself.
Right-Back: Sarthak Golui
The 2017-18 season was inarguably the best in FC Pune City’s history. Several up and coming starlets came forth during the season, as the Stallions made it to the playoffs – the only time during their existence.
Like Kaith, Golui too had a breakthrough season, as he appeared 15 times and registered a goal and three assists. His sturdy defensive work backed by powerful runs down the wing made him a crucial first-team player under all the coaches that took charge during the two seasons he was with them. In the second campaign as well, Golui delivered two assists in 12 appearances. His remarkable performances also earned him a call-up to the national team.
Centre-Back: Rafael Lopez Gomez
The Spanish defender was roped in by the Stallions first before the 2017-18 season. He played every single minute leading them to the playoffs.
Rafael Lopez Gomez’s statistics were simply exceptional, as he delivered 792 passes, made 56 tackles and 115 clearances, while maintaining a superb 83.2% passing accuracy.
Centre-Back: Gurtej Singh
After joining the ISL outfit from Fateh Hyderabad FC, Gurtej Singh formed a solid defensive partnership with Rafael Lopez Gomez in the 2017-18 season. Making 17 starts for the team, he performed a massive 109 clearances, delivered 506 passes and also maintained a 77% passing accuracy. Moreover, the centre-back also found the back of the net once against Jamshedpur FC that season.
His second term with the club was, however, marred by an injury that meant he lost his position in the starting XI. Yet, Gurtej Singh managed to maintain a good 84% passing accuracy and was often praised by the then head coach Phil Brown for his determination.
Left-Back: Dharmaraj Ravanan
Ravanan featured in the defence for FC Pune City during their first three seasons. Often deployed as a centre-back, he was an important first-team player for the Stallions.
During his time, the defender appeared 34 times for the team, making more than 1000 passes with a superb 80% accuracy. Defensively, Ravanan performed 201 clearances, 47 tackles and 29 crucial blocks.
Central Defensive Midfielder: Adil Khan
One of the best players during his time with the Stallions, Adil Khan’s name is synonymous with FC Pune City. With his robust defensive approach and immaculate tackling in the defensive half, the former Churchill Brothers man made a name for himself during the 2017-18 season.
He also scored four goals that campaign and continued with his good form in the following one. Adil Khan performed a massive 91 tackles – fourth-most in the league. His fearless displays for FC Pune City also helped him return to the national team under Igor Stimac.
Central Defensive Midfielder: Marko Stankovic
Marko Stankovic, who recently announced his retirement from professional football, was one of the best midfielders at FC Pune City. The Austrian veteran came into the scenario in 2017-18, when he put his immaculate passing and vision on show.
Stankovic, despite his age was always a lively presence in the Stallions’ midfield and even upped his game in the 2018-19 season. The then 32-year-old scored twice and assisted a further three goals, as FC Pune City finished seventh in the table.
Central Attacking Midfielder: Marcelinho
After a superb season with Delhi Dynamos in 2016, Marcelinho joined FC Pune City and what a signing it turned out to be! The Brazilian established himself as one of the most lethal attackers in the ISL during his time with the Stallions. His partnership with Emiliano Alfaro upfront turned out to be a deadly combination, as the duo led the team to their first and only playoffs in history.
Donning the captain’s armband, Marcelinho again stood up as top scorer at the club in the 2018-19 season. During his time with FC Pune City, the skipper registered 14 goals and 11 assists in the ISL.
Right Winger: Diego Carlos
Another Brazilian attacker who had a good time with FC Pune City. Diego Carlos might not have been one of the most prolific goalscorers at the club, but his presence livened up the attack at times.
With four goals and two assists in two seasons, Diego Carlos takes an important position in our lineup.
Left Winger: Ashique Kuruniyan
One of the easy picks in attack, Ashique rose into the limelight with his exuberant performances down the left wing. Coming through the ranks at the club, Ashique went on to earn a short training stint at Villarreal CF in 2016.
The exposure he received during that short stint boosted his confidence and his performances in the next two seasons were a testament to it. Ashique scored three goals and delivered four assists during his time with the club and immediately earned a call-up for the national team under Stephen Constantine.
Striker: Emiliano Alfaro
One of the most successful foreign strikers in the ISL, Alfaro lived up to expectations when he arrived in 2016. After spending a great season with NorthEast United, he turned out for FC Pune City and finished as their top scorer with nine goals, leading them to the playoffs. His second season with the team was marred by an injury and he was finally brought in by ATK in the middle of the 2018-19 campaign.
However, his partnership upfront with Marcelinho is something FC Pune City fans can always cherish for years.
Head Coach: Ranko Popovic
Popovic’s time at FC Pune City was the best in comparison with any coach that graced the club during their five years of existence. Almost every player in the starting XI flourished under the Serbian, as he led them to their first playoffs since inception, in 2018.
Had he stayed with the club for longer, FC Pune City would have guaranteed themselves another top four finish in the 2018-19 season. However, the head coach parted ways and the Stallions could never replicate their performances from the previous season.