Pune FC is regarded as the face of Professionalism in Indian Football but at the moment, the club is going through a rough patch. Pune FC has registered only one win in their last 10 games and it came against a struggling United SC. This tells a completely different story about a team which was fighting for AFC Champions League Group spots.

Pune FC Starting XI against Hanoi T&T.

Pune FC Starting XI against Hanoi T&T in AFC Champions League Play-off match.

Running Out Of Steam At The End

In recent times Pune FC has started to leak goals towards the dying minutes of the game. Their inability to see of the game off has cost them valuable points. It was exploited very well by Rangdajied United who came from 2 goals down to win the game in injury time. The team looked disjointed on occasions and Coach Mike Snoei has failed to deliver the inspiration or direction which the team lacks in difficult situations. Another interesting observation in Pune FC games are their inability to score in the closing stages of the game. Pune FC hasn’t scored a single goal after the 80th minute in I-League this season. The team’ s performance deteriorated towards the closing stages of the game is one of the main reasons behind their insipid results in recent times. The team seems to run out of steam towards the end of the match which has been well exploited by the opponents.

Poor Performance In Federation Cup and AFC Champions League

Pune FC’s performance in the Federation Cup was at an all time low. They finished rock bottom in a group, which consisted of a team from I-League division two, and two teams below them in current I-League table. In-fact, their only point came against the I-League division two outfit Eagles FC Kerala, where their goalkeeper gifted a goal to Pune FC. Even though the team management was clever to point out that their focus was on the AFC Champions League play-off’s, it couldn’t change their fortunes.

In the match against Hanoi T&T, Pune FC fought bravely for most of the first half and could have gone ahead also. But they didn’t have the strategy or energy to match the Vietnam team, and succumbed to a 0-3 defeat on home soil. Pune FC were completely outplayed by the visitors in second half and the coach became clueless as soon as the team started chasing the game.

Winning and losing are part and parcel of the game; but the lack of fighting spirit shown by Pune FC is alarming. It was evident in Federation Cup and the same was visible during the play-off match also. Some players aren’t playing for the shirt and they looked disinterested in the proceedings and sadly the team isn’t playing as a unit.

Poor Performance From Foreign Contingent

Foreign players are the lynch pins in most of the I-League teams. They are roped in to improve the standards of the team and are considered as the difference makers in the squad. With their experience and stature, they are expected to set the benchmarks for the team. Calum Angus, James Meyer and Riga Mustapha has failed to raise their game will be an understatement.

Can Mustapha Riga deliver the goals for Pune FC?

Can Mustapha Riga deliver the goals for Pune FC?

Former A-League player James Meyer has been a big letdown for Pune FC. He looks a player lost on Indian grounds and his performances were neither inspiring nor fruitful for Pune FC. The amount of money spend on Meyer could have utilized to bring top Indian players like Vineeth CK, who could have made an instant impact at Pune FC. Some rumors have emerged that James Meyer will be released by Pune FC to make way for a new signing, with Croat-Australian Mirjan Pavlovic linked heavily with the club. When an injured Raul Fabiani was replaced by Riga Mustapha Rahmat, the hopes were sky high in Pune FC camps. Former La Liga and EPL striker hasn’t lived upto the expectations yet. He has 5 goals in I-League under his belt but most of them have been scored from inside the box. The fans were expecting a player to make things happen on his own and that is where Riga is seemed as a failure so far.

Pune FC defense has got the stick in recent times for conceding cheap goals. Coach’s favorite Calum Angus, an English defender, was expected to keep I-League strikers in his pockets. But his performance has fallen in recent times; opponents are going past him without much difficulty. He isn’t committed to the cause and can be seen jogging once an opponent gets past him. He isn’t interested in lost battles, and he gives up very easily and it seems he has lost interest to play for the team.

Questionable Team Selection

It’s interesting to note that Pune FC goal posts are manned by academy graduate Amrinder Singh. When you consider his age, he is doing an exceptional job, but some of his mistakes were very costly for the team. Even though Pune FC has a goal keeping coach, there aren’t many improvements made in his game. In Arup Debnath and Shahinlal Meloly, they have two competent goalkeepers to provide back up and competition for places. Shahinlal produced a gem of performance against Blackburn Rovers where his reflexes were outstanding and one might wonder what is going wrong with him at the moment!

On the other hand Pune FC has their skipper Anas Edathodikka to bail them out. His commitment, hard work and fighting spirit are something which is expected from each and every player, no matter whether you are a star or not. Gurjinder Kumar is another consistent performer for Pune FC. It is very difficult to understand why the Coach messes around with his position. One of the best left backs in the country was seen as a defensive midfielder and as a right back during Federation Cup – 2014. Interestingly Pune FC has brought two players in this transfer window who can play as left backs, Zeeshan Rahman and Nicolau Borges. The new arrivals make it 5 players vying it out for a spot on the left hand side of defense where the current Indian International playing and this makes the club’ s transfer policy very questionable.

New signing Gabriel Fernandes has brought some pace down the flanks and in forward areas. But his end product isn’t upto the mark and one will be hoping that he will produce the goods sooner rather than later. Another winger in PFC ranks, Anthony D’Souza isn’t a nightmare for opposition defenders. The injury to young sensation Nikhil Kadam has also played a part in Pune FC’s miseries.

The Final Word

The emergence of Dhanpal Ganesh and Fanai Lalrempuia are also positives for Pune FC.  Academy graduate Shamboy Haokip is making good strides in Indian football. He is too young and inexperienced to be the lead striker for a club like Pune FC. The other forward in the squad Prakash Thorat isn’t even getting enough chances. If Pavlovic joins Pune FC, their strike force will get a much needed boost and some tweaks can be expected in the team’s style of play as well.

Can Pune FC get the better of their recent struggles soon? I-League resumes in a week’s time and PFC has a strong opponent waiting the in the form of Sporting Club De Goa. If they cannot get things on track, the likes of Bengaluru FC and Sporting will slip further away from their reach. Teams like Shillong Lajong, Salgaocar SC, East Bengal etc. are waiting for a slip up to make the best out of it. Pune FC needs to wake up from their sleep as soon as possible to keep up the pace with I-League pace setters. How long it will take for Pune FC to get back to form?