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Popovic backs Indian players to impress, Portugal hopes for winning start


Both teams are keen to get going after watching eight of their competitors take to the field last week.

New FC Pune City manager Ranko Popovic met the press ahead of his team's first Indian Super League (ISL) game against Delhi Dynamos on Wednesday.

Offering his reflections ahead of the first outing Popovic said, “We are feeling good about the first match. We are excited because after a long preparation we had a long break. After a long break, all play carefully [as we saw] in the first four matches, nobody played like they should have played. this is normal. I hope we will be on the level where we want to be."

On being asked if it would be an advantage to play at home, Popovic said, “I don’t think in that way.. If you want something you have to perform in that way. The three points is all that matters. We will be happy if we can make our supporters happy, home or away. But, at home, we will have more support. This can make a difference. They can push us giving more energy."

Talking about the opposition, the FCPC coach said, “I hope we can talk on the pitch. We have great respect for everyone. But, we also want them to respect us.”

He also addressed injury concerns saying that some players are carrying little niggles, specially those with whom he intended to start on Wednesday but didn't specify any names.

Answering questions about whether the ISL should emulate AFC rules by fielding seven locals in the starting XI, Popovic said, “Look, quality is important. The number of players is not important. If they are not good why do you need these players here? The young players must learn more about the game, about the play, how to behave, how to handle the pressure before the game, this is something important. If its only five locals, let it be five. But, make sure these five can really help Indian football to be better."

The Serbian mastermind is happy to have the services of Marcos Tebar, Marcelinho and other former Dynamos stars, but equally wants his Indian boys to come good. “We are happy to have them. There is a good competition within the team. But, what if only [Marcos] Tebar and Marcelino are good? What about the other players? We want everybody at the same levels because 2-3 players can't win us the championship. We need the team as a whole.” 

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ISL 2017-18 Team Profile: Delhi Dynamos FC

ISL 2017-18 Team Profile: FC Pune City

The first match is a critical test for us- Portugal

Ahead of their season opener, Delhi Dynamos FC coach Miguel Angel Portugal has backed his boys to start strong and do well. “It is a test for us. An important match to start with, for the players, for me as well. We had a long pre-season, about two months, in Spain, in Qatar, and in India.”

About the pre-season tasks the coach said, “In Spain we devised our strategies, because it is important to know what is our philosophy. In Qatar, we worked on our philosophy. Then in India, we are back in the natural ground for competition. In two months, we have improved a lot and now this match is a very critical test for us.

On his views about the tournament as a whole Portugal said, “I watched the matches at the weekend. Its a very balanced competition. All the ten teams are at a similar level. But, Goa and Bengaluru worked hard for their wins.”

Expressing his thoughts about the opposition the Delhi boss talked about Pune being a good side. “Pune are a good team. They have got the likes of Marcelinho, Tebar, Emiliano Alfaro, much potential in the side. I respect Pune. [It will be] very difficult to win in Pune, but a win is very important. We also try to see what is the performance from our team.”



Published: Tue Nov 21, 2017 09:22 PM IST


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