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ISL Media

Popovic reveals inspiring halftime team-talk, Marcelinho the difference for Coppell

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The Stallions came from behind to win against the Men of Steel and go top of the table.

FC Pune City came from behind to clinch maximum points in their Indian Super League (ISL) fixture against Jamshedpur FC at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium in Pune on Wednesday. The hosts fell behind to a first-half strike by Wellington Priori before goals from Gurtej Singh and Emiliano Alfaro earned Pune the victory.

The Stallions’ Brazilian talisman Marcelinho provided both the assists for his side’s goals and Pune head coach Ranko Popovic spoke about his second-half tactical changes in the post-match press conference. “First of all, I really want to say that Jamshedpur played fantastically. In the first half, they were very organised and very aggressive. This was what I had warned my boys all these days; how they will play and how they will start."

"I had hoped that we would start the game as we started the second half. First half they were better, they were playing and we were trying. In the break, I told my players not to worry much. Let’s aim at scoring one. If we score the first one, we will get to score the second one as well. And I also told them, if someone did not believe in this then not to go out to play the second half,” he said.

The Serbian continued: “We changed some players, we changed some positions. We put Marcelinho in the side and Marko (Stankovic) in the middle. Also, Sarthak (Golui) came into the game... And from the start of the second half, we started looking like a team. It was better, it was an open game, they could have scored but we held our own."

Stankovic's shot was very well saved by Subrata Paul

"Again, I would like to say that the people in India deserve to watch players like Marcelinho and Emiliano Alfaro play. People pay and travel to watch us and the young players enjoy their games. We are all here working together to better Indian football and some of the players from our club are at a very high level, and we need to protect that.”

When quizzed on a lack of attacking options from the bench, Popovic said: “Look, we are limited in some positions but we always try to choose what is best, what is better to start and then whom to choose later. It’s always good to have good players on the bench to get more out of the players, so that they do well."

"In the past, we have seen that some of our changes didn’t bring much of a difference because someone may be coming back from injury or certain other reasons. We have seen players like (Jonatan) Lucca coming off the bench and in 15-20 minutes, completely changing the game and this what we need. We have a good team, the only thing we have to find is the right balance in the team."

Popovic also chose to sidestep the question of their maiden semi-final hopes having climbed to the top of the league and opted to thank their fans instead. “The way we are playing is fantastic. I think, everyone is happy and we want to again say thank you to everyone who is coming and supporting us, especially the Orange Army."

They are always here in every game and they give their best to motivate our players. We want all our fans to keep coming and support us and be beside us in moments when the team is down, to give us that last push. The players need to know that whatever happens the fans will respect them, support them and this is the connection we need (to reach the semis),” the 50-year-old said.


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Speaking to media and explaining how his side faded in the second half of the encounter was Jamshedpur’s head coach Steve Coppell.  “After 1-1, they moved Marcelinho out to a wider position which was in isolation. When he was in the middle, we could crowd around him but when he went wide, it became a little more difficult to try and contain him. Once again, a quality player made all the difference,” he said.

Coppell continued: “From my point of view, in the first half we were terrific. In the second half obviously, we conceded two goals and then we had a fabulous drive to score a second from our side. We had a good chance in the end and they looked dangerous on the break but that was a risk we had to take."

"To throw men forward, to take chances and to try and get back in the game. I am pleased with the way my team played and the efforts they gave, given the fact it was a three-day turnaround for us as well. It is difficult for us, especially, to play back to back games within three days."

When expanding on his side’s chances of finding an equaliser at the death and if he thought Jamshedpur deserved a point from the game, Coppell added: “Yes, of course. I am standing here now with nothing so if someone gives me a point, it's not a bad thing. I do think our overall contribution deserved something from the game. We didn't plan to come here and play in a restricted way."

"It was not just about stopping them from playing, we were trying to attack them as well. You know in the last 10 minutes their goalkeeper came for a couple of crosses which helped them exceptionally well. A lot of traffic and he came and caught the ball and dropped hardly anything. Credit to him, he played a full role in his team’s victory as well."

The Englishman also elaborated on his side’s demanding upcoming fixture schedule. “It (upcoming games in quick succession) won’t define us but it will shape us. For us to play four games in 11 days, this is the thing that I don’t understand. We are playing four games in 11 days in what is a longer season than previously, and every team has done it, I think. Why is there this three-day turnaround?"

"When we finish this period in Mumbai, after that we don’t play for nine days. I know scheduling is a problem but to subject everybody to the three-day turnaround when there is so much travelling in India. There is a lesson to be learnt going forward and it shouldn’t be such an endurance test. It should be a test of footballing skills over a prolonged period of time,” Coppell said.

Published: Thu Jan 25, 2018 01:47 PM IST

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