We are on a learning curve, say FC Pune City players ahead of ISL season
FC Pune City players Baljit Singh Sahani and Jewel Raja Shaikh on their preparations ahead of upcoming ISL season.pune Updated: Oct 22, 2017 23:42 IST
The 2017 season of Indian Super League (ISL) will begin on November 17 and FC Pune City will lock horns with Delhi Dynamos a month after, on November 22. The team management and players are already sweating it out and busy preparing for another gruelling and challenging season.
This year FC Pune City has drafted striker Kean Lewis, defenders Wayne Vaz and Lalchhuanmawaia Fanai, midfielders Adil Khan along with Baljit Singh Sahani and Jewel Raja Shaikh for the season. Baljit represented Chennaiyin FC last season while Jewel Raja was with Atletico De Kolkata.
“I am happy to represent FC Pune City. The training facility, equipment and the support staff, including the team management, is really impressive. We all are working towards one aim, that of growing every passing day into a formidable unit. The club is really professional and I believe this time FC Pune City will be a different team than what has been seen in the past,” said Baljit.
The midfielder is not new to pressure handling situations. He came from the JCT Academy and made it into the senior team with his scoring ability. His feat includes scoring six goals in seven matches during the 2008-09 I-League season for Shillong Lajong.
Though a serious bike accident in Goa curtailed his progress, he went on to win Football Players Association of India (FPAI ) Young Player of the Year award. He also represented Punjab in the Santosh Trophy and moved up the international ladder from the junior India team at the 2006 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) youth championship to the senior squad.
FIFA Under-17 World Cup
Talking about the Indian team which played in the Federation Internationale De Football Association (FIFA) under-17 World Cup, Baljit said, “The Indian boys have played their heart out honestly. Considering it was their first ever FIFA World Cup event, I believe they played well. Of course there are a lot areas to improve but I believe this team will be one of the best football teams of the country in the near future.”
In ISL, Baljit was picked up by Atletico de Kolkata during their first season, and after playing two seasons with them, he moved to Chennaiyin FC.
He is all praise for the FC Pune City coach Ranko Popovich.
“Ranko is really one of the best coaches I have worked with. His analysis of every player is spot on and he fine tunes the training for everyone based on his observations. He is known for developing young players in his coaching career, so it works well for our side which has so many talented youngsters. He is really training us hard in the preseason so that we are prepared for the longer season,” he said.
Kolkata-born Jewel wanted to become a cricketer in his early childhood but turned to football and represented big names like Mohun Bagan and Dempo before representing the India under-23 team in Asian Games.
In ISL, he was part of the Atletico de Kolkata team, which won the ISL title in 2014. About moving to FC Pune City, he said, “Since the inception of ISL, FC Pune City has done their best to achieve good results, but the results and standings aren't exactly reflecting the hard work put in. I can say the time is changing and we have a lot of young players this season and the way squad is training for the preseason, the team is shaping well. There is a great belief in the team and trust in the coach.”
For the new season, he said, “The season is longer than the previous one, but it’s a good thing considering we have new and young players and even foreign players will get a larger role to play with a longer season. The young players will learn many new things, training under Ranko and play with experienced foreign players too.”
“Our preseason is going well. The team is working on technicalities and focusing on fitness as the season is going to be a longer one. Since our entire team is fresh, all of us are learning a lot right now.”
“Our head coach is making sure we are trained right and his reading of the game is really fantastic. His coaching techniques are really impressive and he is clear in what he wants,”
“The players we have picked are not big name. We are aiming to create a core team which will be ours for the next couple of years. We want to create our own marquee players and we will focus on developing more players.”
Gourav Modwel, CEO, FC Pune City