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ISL 2018/19: Miguel Angel Portugal Back to Old Hunting Ground as Delhi and Pune Lock Horns

Delhi Dynamos and FC Pune City’s ISL opener at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Wednesday will have an extra element of spice, as FC Pune City coach Miguel Angel Portugal returns to face the team that he managed last season at their home ground.

Suyash Upadhyaya |

Updated:October 3, 2018, 9:43 AM IST
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ISL 2018/19: Miguel Angel Portugal Back to Old Hunting Ground as Delhi and Pune Lock Horns
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Delhi Dynamos and FC Pune City’s ISL opener at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Wednesday will have an extra element of spice, as FC Pune City coach Miguel Angel Portugal returns to face the team that he managed last season at their home ground.

It was a disappointing fourth ISL season for Delhi. The team could only manage an eighth place finish, with Portugal’s charges unable to find consistency. Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Portugal thanked Delhi for his time at the club, but maintained that he plans to take a professional approach to the match.

“It’s a pleasure to be back here for me,” he said, “but now I am the opponent. I had a good time with Delhi, leading FC Pune City is another challenge. I have confidence in Pune. We have very good players, and we will try to improve. It’s not easy, but I have confidence in our philosophy.”

The duo of ex-Dynamos player Marcelinho, and his strike partner Emiliano Alfaro will be re-united once again for FC Pune City, while wingers like Nikhil Poojary and Ashique Kuruniyan (who played for India in the recently concluded SAFF Championship) will look to exploit the weaknesses of Delhi’s full-backs.

Current Delhi coach Josep Gombau is confident of a good showing from his team, and spoke about his aims for the upcoming season.

“Everyone’s target is to win and mine is no different,” he said. “We want to be challenging from the beginning. We have been working for the last six weeks in pre-season. I was following the ISL last season as well, and you can see that it’s a very good league which is improving every year.

“We have a very good pool of players, and what I like is that we have a lot of young players who bring energy to the side.”

With Spanish coaches generally finding their modus-operandi from a common set of values and a common philosophy, it holds Delhi in good stead that the franchise replaced a Spaniard with another Spaniard, making the transition into the new season smoother.

Delhi also has four Spanish players in its ranks, the most notable one being Marcos Tebar (who incidentally played for Pune last season) and has returned for his second stint with the club. His new coach Josep Gombau only had good things to say about him.

“Marcos is a very good player, he has the potential to build this project. Apart from that, he is a good guy. He is friendly with everybody, Indian players look up to him. This type of player who has an open mentality to help is very important for the squad.”

Apart from Tebar, talented young winger Lallianzuala Chhangte will be looking to improve on his performances from last season and take them up a notch, while Pritam Kotal and Narayan Das add experience to the defence. Vineet Rai, who was part of the Indian set-up in the SAFF Championship is another one of the Indian talents in Delhi’s ranks.

Delhi will be hoping to make the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium a fortress in ISL season five after suffering patchy form last season. What now remains to be seen is if they can get one over someone who was part of their own set-up last season, and embark on that journey.
| Edited by: Shayne Dias
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