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Portugal hints at squad rotation, Popovic determined to overcome shock defeat against Goa


The hosts are confident of keeping their impressive run of form intact.

Delhi Dynamos FC welcome FC Pune City in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi on Friday. The Lions are unbeaten in their last five matches and come off the back of a comprehensive 5–1 rout of Mumbai City FC. They would want to carry that momentum into their last game of the season to finish on a happy note.

Speaking to the media during the pre-match press conference was their head coach Miguel Portugal, who stressed the importance of a victory in their last match. “The form is very good after the back-to-back wins,” he said. “Winning is always a very important part of football to stay motivated and happy. Now, we must play the last match of the season and try and win this one to stay happy.”

He further added, “We are in a good mood because in the last five matches, we have three victories and against Pune, we will try to win. I know they will play for the second position, but we will play to be happy.”

The Spaniard also highlighted the importance of squad rotation. “We played four matches in 10 days, so you must use all your players,” Portugal said. “It is impossible for one player to play all four matches. I am happy that even after making changes, we still have been getting results.”

The 62-year-old picked out the players who could be a game-changer in any match and especially lauded their new signing Manuel Arana. “Arana is a big player who is very important for us,” he remarked. “Delhi had made a good decision to sign him. If Arana, Paulinho (Dias) or Matias (Mirabaje) can play in all matches, Delhi Dynamos can win any match.”


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FC Pune City travel to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi to take on Delhi Dynamos FC in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 on Friday. The Stallions have already qualified for the semi-finals but would look to put behind an upsetting 4 – 0 loss to FC Goa in their previous match. Getting back their winning momentum is of utmost importance to the visitors and maximum points will secure for them the second position in the table.

Addressing the media during the pre-match press conference was their head coach Ranko Popovic, who explained how their loss to the Gaurs was a learning experience for his team. “We have to come out of the shock if we want to do something,” he stated. “We have to do what we were doing before the last game. I had been warning about this; not because I am super-intelligent, but because of experience. I have been telling players that when you reach something, it is always dangerous to relax. Sometimes, it is good to have these things because it is part of the experience.”

The Serbian also spoke about the importance of finishing the season with a flourish. “This is the last game of the regular season, so it is important to have a nice finish and leave a good impression,” he said. “For me, the way how you perform is important. If you give everything on the pitch, then you can be unsatisfied with the result, but never with yourself.”

The visitors would be missing their Brazilian star Marcelinho, who picked up a red card in Pune’s last match, but Popovic stressed the importance of not having the reputation of a one-man-army. “Marcelinho is one of the best players ever in the league and it is very important to have him in the squad,” the 50-year-old remarked. “But when we play without Marcelinho, it is important to show that we are a team that is not dependant on one player. This should be a motivation to every player to demonstrate and show we can replace him in one or two games when he is not playing. It will not be easy, but it is a good challenge for us.”

Published: Fri Mar 02, 2018 11:54 AM IST


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