The previous season saw the Pune Football Club (PFC) finish fifth on the last day of the I-League,the current revamping of the side,along with all their injured players coming back seem to have infused a positive change.
Two major transfers during the transfer window saw keeper Subrata Paul depart and go to Prayag United,while Sudanese striker James Moga from Sporting Clube De Goa has come in to bolster the fire power up front. The team will play their opening game of the 2012-13 I-League against ONGC on Monday at the Shri Shiv Chhattrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi.
Coach Derrick Pereira of the PFC is confident that the team has moved on from the last season where they fell from the second place to the fifth place on the last day and that the side is looking much more confident now.
There were a number of factors last year. Primary amongst them were our players getting injured during critical junctions and even having to deal with suspensions. However,the team is back in shape now. In fact,outside Arata (Izumi) who picked up an injury in the Federation Cup,the team is fighting fit. We hope to begin our campaign on a winning note, he says. While PFC will play ONGC in the first game,the squad will then face off against Mumbai FC at home during the first leg of the Maha Derby.
Pereira says Subrata Paul,who was with the club since the first season and had been an inspiring force,will be missed this time around. Yes,he bought with him a lot of experience and also he was one of our best custodians. We will miss his services. However,during his injury last year we managed to find worthy replacements in keepers like Abhra (Mondal),Shahinlal (Meloly) and Amrinder (Singh). The entire onus is on us as a squad to build a cohesive unit,which will be the best in the coming years. We are aware of the fact that we have come very close to getting right at the top of the league only to lose it in the dying days of the league but we are building a good team, he says.
Aganist ONGC,however,Pereira says that they will not take the side lightly. We want to win our opening encounter. We narrowly lost qualifying for the elimination rounds of the Federation Cup but the team is looking good. More importantly Mogas arrival in the side and the fact that he has already started gelling well with the team has been a huge positive. Hopefully,the same will translate into positive results on the field, he says.