FC Pune City and Mumbai City FC brace for Maharashtra derby.
Matchday 3 of the Hero Indian Super League Season 2 (ISL) doesn’t come any bigger than this. India’s biggest footballing extravaganza will see FC Pune City host Mumbai City FC in the Maharashtra derby at the Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Sports Complex on Monday. Games between these two neighbouring sides have always proven to be entertaining in the past. Mumbai led the way with a 5-0 blitz of Pune at the DY Patil Stadium last season, while Pune responded with a controlled 2-0 win in the corresponding fixture.
Pune have since added star power all over the pitch and will definitely be a force to be reckoned with this season. With the acquisition of David Platt as head coach heading into Season 2, Pune have already signalled their intentions of attack, in keeping with Platt’s philosophy. Mumbai, on the other hand, have kept the spine of their squad intact from Season 1 and have made a few star additions to bolster their fire power. However, Nicolas Anelka, who will be donning the position of Mumbai’s marquee player-cum-coach this season, still remains one of their main attacking forces.
The signing of Roger Johnson is set to address a key area of concern for the Stallions defence. His addition to Pune is sure to tighten up an otherwise leaky defence that conceded 17 goals last year. Having represented Premier League regulars of old and new in Charlton Athletic and West Ham United respectively, Johnson’s leadership at the back will bring calmness and solidity to the Pune defence.
One of the most exciting prospect of the Hero ISL this year is Sony Norde. The 26-year-old Haitian has got all the traits to be a top quality catch for Mumbai this season. His pace, power and trickery make him, on his day, impossible for defenders to contain. The attacking midfielder proved to be one of the most influential figures in Mohun Bagan’s Hero I-League winning side, providing goals and assists galore.
Didier Zokora vs André Francisco Moritz
Didier Zokora’s presence in midfield will be crucial to the fortunes of FC Pune City. The all-time top capped Ivory Coast midfielder is known for his ability to sniff out danger and be in the right place at the right time. His big match temperament will be a valuable asset for the Punekars as his defensive instincts make him the ideal shield to sit in front of the Pune defence and dictate play from midfield.
André Francisco Moritz scored the only hat-trick of Season 1 in his first home game for Mumbai against Pune. The Brazilian winger loves to cut in from the flanks and leave defenders reeling. His battle with the full backs and Didier Zokora will have a significant say in the eventual outcome of the contest.
Adrian Mutu vs Pavel Čmovš
Pune’s capture of Adrian Mutu served as a real statement of intent to the rest of the league. Romania’s joint-record holder alongside the legendary Gheorghe Hagi is a proven goal scorer, scoring for every club he has ever represented. A proven winner, his time with Chelsea and Juventus will bring a winning mentality to the rest of the FC Pune City squad.
Retaining Pavel Čmovš came as no surprise to anyone from the Mumbai camp. The Czechoslovakian defender was a constant presence in the Mumbai backline last season. A great distributor of the ball from the back with an 87% passing accuracy last season, Čmovš also made 18 blocks and 60 clearances.
One individual who will be on everyone’s lips is Mumbai City FC’s marquee player-cum-coach, Anelka. The enigmatic forward is an absolute game changer and has ability to affect the game from anywhere on the pitch. Anelka’s dead-ball expertise will also make them a massive threat from set-pieces. Amongst other new faces for Mumbai, one player sure to stand out in the crowd would have to be Selim Benachour. The Tunisian attacking midfielder will offer plenty of penetration going forward to the Mumbaikars and will be keen to stamp his mark on the rest of the league.
The Stallions, on the other hand, will be looking for inspiration from Tuncay Sanli. One of Turkey’s best attacking threats for many a year, the former Stoke City and VfL Wolfsburg striker will be keen to neutralize if not outgun Mumbai’s multiple attacking threats. He along with Nigerian frontman Kalu Uche will be hoping to come out all guns blazing in front of a rapturous Pune crowd. Regardless of what the eventual outcome maybe one thing is for sure that we are in for an entertaining game when these two neighbouring teams lock horns.
Tomorrow’s game will be hard for us but we have the calibre to see it through. We have a very good squad, and a fruitful pre-season. It’s Sunil Chhetri and Subrata Paul [both on national duty] who’ll be missed tomorrow, but we have good players to cover them in every position: Mumbai City FC midfielder Andre Moritz
As a coach, I am impressed with the Indian players. I wasn’t expecting this and they have pleasantly surprised me. As a squad, we have very offensive-minded players. We would like to control tomorrow’s game, and every other game as well: FC Pune City coach David Platt
FC Pune City: Kalu Uche, Adrian Mutu (Marquee Player), Yendrick Ruiz, Wesley Verhoek, Tuncay Sanli, Didier Zokora, James Bailey, Jackichand Singh, Fanai Lalrempuia, Sushanth Mathew, Manish Maithani, Bikash Jairu, Israil Gurung, Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Lenny Rodrigues, Diego Colotto, Roger Johnson, Nicky Shorey, Govin Singh, Gourmangi Singh, Gurjinder Kumar, Pritam Kotal, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Steve Simonsen, Lalit Thapa, Arindam Bhattacharya
Mumbai City FC: Subrata Pal, Albino Gomes, Debjit Majumder, Kinshuk Debnath, Darren O’Dea, Pavel Čmovš, Keegan Pereira, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai (Chhuantea), Frantz Bertin, Rowilson Rodrigues, Airtor Fernandez Lopez, Gabriel Fernandes, Juan Aguilera Nunez, Brandon Fernandes, André Francisco Moritz, Selim Benachour, Cristian Bustos, Sarang Singh, Pratesh Shirodkar, Sampath Kumar Kuttymani, Ashutosh Mehta, Singham Subash Singh, Nicolas Anelka (Marquee & Manager), Sony Norde, Sunil Chhetri, Frederic Piquionne
(The match starts 1900 IST and will be telecast on Start Sports 1/HD1/2/HD2/3/HD3)
– ISL Media