The third edition of the Indian Super League is just one week away and the footballing action will soon grip the nation with eight teams looking to emerge as the Indian champions. FC Pune City will be one of them to challenge for the top spots after missing out on semifinal spots for the past two seasons. The Stallions have undergone an overhaul with a new manager, Antonio Habas at the helm, who replaced David Platt after finishing seventh in the table last season.
Iceland's best player ever, Eidur Gudjohnsen will be the marquee player for Pune City, succeeding Adrian Mutu who was Pune's top scorer last season. Along with some exciting new foreign players in Jesus Tato and Gustavo Oberman, Pune have experienced players in Bruno and Apoula Edel. The Stallions have some exciting Indian talents in the form of Zodingliana Ralte, Sanju Pradhan and Eugeneson Lyngdoh.
Habas, a former ISL winner with Atletico De Kolkata has a playing style similar to Diego Simeone as the former Valencia boss likes to strike on counter attacks with his team defending as one and his players doing relentless pressing in their half. The 58-year-old reached the knockout stages on both the occasions and Pune are having the same aspirations under him. Let's take a look at the best xi that will take the centre stage for FC Pune City this season :
Goalkeeper: Apoula Edel
Edel is a man on a mission as he wants to complete a unique hat-trick of winning three ISL titles with three different teams. The Cameroon-born custodian won the league title with Kolkata in the inaugural season in 2014 and also with Chennayin FC last season.
The 31-year-old was one of the most sought after players for this season and the Stallions have managed a huge coup to secure his services for the third ISL season.
Left back: Zodingliana Ralte
The 21-year-old is one of the most highly-rated talents in Indian football and has plied his trade with NorthEast United and Delhi Dynamos in the past. Ralte who played as a winger in the I-League for Shillong Lajong has been deployed as a fullback in ISL before. This season can be a breakthrough campaign for the youngster as he looks forward to attaining his first senior cap for India.
Centre back: Gouramangi Singh
Gourmangi is an experienced player in both ISL and for India having been capped 69 times for his national team. Last season he played well for the Stallions and will look to be a strong presence at the back under Habas.
Centre back: Eduardo Ferreira
The new signing from Iranian Pro League has many expectations from fans and club alike. The 32-year-old has been playing first team football for 11 years and has now decided to take up a challenge of playing in India. He needs to form a resolute partnership with Singh in order to form a solid pair as Habas' main priority has always been discipline at the back.
Right back : Rahul Bheke
Bheke has been an integral member for East Bengal over the years and played a huge role for Kerala Blasters last season. The 25-year-old will play on the right flank with Andre Bikey suffering an injury before the start of the season. Bheke needs to have a strong season to be in the reckoning for the Indian national team.