Pune: After their first season slump, Indian Super League (ISL) sides Mumbai City FC and FC Pune City will aim for a winning start when they meet in a derby clash at the Balewadi Stadium here on Monday.
After finishing the first season in the bottom half of the points table, both Mumbai and Pune have used the transfer window ahead of the second season to good effect and have re-grouped their sides.
Being led and coached by French football great Nicolas Anelka, Mumbai received extra momentum when they bagged India captain Sunil Chhetri in the Indian players auction.
With 50 goals to his credit at the international level, the 31-year-old Chhetri’s zeal and enthusiasm for the game is expected to make the side strong up-front and his experience in this part of the country will come to help immensely.
The India skipper’s presence alongside former Chelsea forward Anelka, who is mainly in the side for his experience, will surely count.
Andre Moritz — a Brazilian of Italian and German descent who holds the record for the only hat-trick in the ISL, when he netted thrice against state rivals FC Pune City in a 5-0 rout last year will add to the side’s strengths in the forward line.
Haitian striker Sony Norde is well versed in Indian conditions after playing for reigning I-League champions Mohun Bagan last year. The side also looks well shaped up with several talented Indian players in the line-up.
On the other hand, Pune will be managed by David Platt, a former assistant coach of English football giants Manchester City, and his vast experience at the club level will surely come handy for the side.
The side managed to rope proven performers and rising stars from the country and abroad this time around, which makes the side a competitive one.
Foreign signings like former Chelsea star Adrian Mutu, Didier Zokora — the most capped player for Ivory Coast — Turkish footballer Tuncay Sanli, England’s Roger Johnson and Indians like Eugenesin Lyngdoh and Jackichand Singh can pose a real threat to the opponents on a given day.
Looking at their signing spree and the overall balance of both the sides, one can say both sides expect to turn promise into performance.