Monday, February 17, 2020

FC Pune City: The Team That Hailed From The Base Of Peshwas

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In this edition of the Indian Super League teams, we will talk about a team that hailed from the base of Peshwas of the Maratha Empire, FC Pune City. This article would contain how the club was formed and its performance overview in the ISL seasons.

FC Pune City: Club Profile

Basic Information of FC Pune City

Full Name: FC Pune City

Nickname: The Stallions

Founded: 30 July 2014

Dissolved: 2019

Home Ground: Balewadi Stadium, Pune

Capacity: 10,900

Affiliation: Indian Super League

How FC Pune City was Formed?

As per the announcement in early 2014, that IMG-Reliance along with the national football federation of India, AIFF was going to accept the bids for the football franchise in India for the Indian Super League. Wadhwan Group along with Bollywood actor Salman Khan was going to bid for the Pune franchise.

In April 2014, it was officially that Wadhawan Group and Salman Khan won the bid for the Pune franchise. Later Salman Khan opted to move out of the club due to the issues of sponsorship and endorsements. FC Fiorentina came on board as the technical partners and another Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan took place of Salman Khan as the club’s co-owner for the first year of its existence.

On 30 July 2014, Rajesh Wadhawan Group revealed the identity of the club as FC Pune City

Inaugural 2014 Season

For the inaugural season of ISL, the club went on to appoint Franco Colomba as their new head coach and also signed David Trezeguet as their marquee player.

The club then went on to sign Kostas Katsouranis in September 2014 and bolstered its squad for the season. He also became the first player in ISL that have played the FIFA World Cup 2014. The club also signed John Goossens who was also a notable player for the season.

FC Pune City played their first ISL match of the 2014 season against away to Delhi Dynamos and end the match in a goalless draw. In the second match, they played their bitter rivals Mumbai City FC and had to face a huge defeat of 5-0.

The start of the season did not come out as expected but the club did not lose hope and registered its first win in their third match against FC Goa. FC Pune City won the match by 2-0 and Katsouranis, and Trezeguet were amongst the goal scorers for the club.

The club went to finish the season on the sixth spot of the table with just four wins and four draws.

Kostas Katsouranis became the top scorer for the club with 4 goals.

2015 Season

FC Pune City and Franco Colomba parted ways at the end of the last season and went on the sign English football legend and former co-assistant of Manchester City David Platt as their new head coach for the season. They even signed Adrian Mutu as the marquee player along with  Didier Zokora an Ivory Coast and former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder.

FC Pune City started the season with style as they defeated Mumbai City FC 3-1 in Maharashtra Derby on October 5, 2015, at home. A brace from Tuncay and a goal by Gurung helped the club an emphatic win in the Maharashtra Derby. The club also went on the win the second match which was again at home against NorthEast United FC where they won by a narrow margin of 1-0.

The club had a dream start of the season where they only lost 2 games out of the first 6 played. From the 7th match of the 2015 season, the club had a downfall where they did not manage to win a single game of the remaining 8 matches.

By failing to win a single match, FC Pune City finished the season in 7th position with just 15 points. This type of performance led to the sacking of David Platt.

2016 Season

Before the start of the 2016 season, the club announced that it has taken over the I-League club Pune FC’s academy and the home-grown talent of the club where FC Pune City made a significant investment to upgrade the existing infrastructure by creating top-end training facilities.

For the third season, FC Pune City brought in Iceland and Barcelona legend Eiour Guojohnsen as their marquee player, but Guojohnsen picked up an injury during a pre-season training session and ended his stint with the club. Later Momo Sissoko a former Liverpool midfielder was roped in as the new marquee player and ISL winning coach, Antonio Habas joined the club as the new head coach.

For the second time, FC Pune City faced against Mumbai City FC in their opening match of the season and lost by a narrow margin of 1-0.  The season didn’t start as well as expected by FC Pune City, as the club managed to register only two wins out of the eight played. In the next six matches, the club again managed only two wins and finished the season in the 6th spot by a total of just four wins and four draws.

2017-18 Season

By displaying a poor performance in the 2016 season, FC Pune City sacked Antonio Habad and appointed former Serbian player Ranko Popovic as their new head coach for the season.

The first match of the season was against Delhi Dynamos at home where the club lost the hard-fought match a close margin of 2-3. Then they went on the win their next two matches which were against ATK and Mumbai City FC by a margin of 1-4 and 2-1 respectively.

The biggest victory in the history of FC Pune City came on 30 December 2017 where they hosted NothEast United FC and won 5-0. The season for the club was amazing where they registered 9 wins and 3 draws out of the eighteen played and finished fourth in the table.

By finished 4th, FC Pune City qualified for the first time in four seasons for the playoffs. The club was drawn against Bengaluru FC in the semi-finals and hosted Bengaluru FC in the first leg. Though having the home advantage, the first leg ended in a goalless draw and lost the second leg 3-1 and their journey for the 2017-18 season came to an end.

2018-19 Season

Though qualifying for the first playoffs, FC Pune City and Ranko Popovic parted ways by mutual consent. For the new season, the Stallions signed Spanish coach Miguel Angel Portugal, who coached Delhi Dynamos the previous season.

Before the season began, the Stallions announced the signing of Ashutosh Mehta a wing-back who previously played for ATK and Mumbai City FC, joined Pune City as a replacement for an injured Keenan Almeida. The plus point was that Ashutosh came in with a wealth of experience.

FC Pune City started the season with away games at Delhi Dynamos and Mumbai City FC which ended in a draw and a win by a score of 1-1 and 2-0 respectively. The start did not go as expected, with FC Pune City registering only two draws and one win in the first nine games.

As a result of this poor performance at the start of the season, the club sacked coach Miguel and appointed Pradyum Reddy who was a technical director as the interim coach. The Stallions then decided to loan Emiliano Alfaro to ATK for the rest of the season.

FC Pune City then appointed former Hull City coach Phil Brown as their new head coach in the winter break.

The Englishman’s first match as the club’s head coach was against Chennaiyin FC and registered a 2-1 away win. FC Pune City ended their Hero Indian Super League 2018-19 season win against Mumbai City FC by 2-1. The Stallions finished the season in the seventh place, missing out on the qualification to the Hero Super Cup.

Marcelo Pereira was the club’s highest goalscorer, with 6 goals.

Controversies

In 2019, before shutting down several FC Pune City players like Ashique Kuruniyan and Iain Hume gave a statement that they haven’t received their salary for the entire season. Then the All India Football Federation had to get involved to solve the salary issues with the players and the club.

Later in 2019, Pune City illegally tried to sign Spaniard Nestor Gordillo from Chennai City FC without the knowledge of the club and he still had a contract with the Chennaiyin franchise. 

After this incident, All India Football Federation (AIFF) handed a two-window transfer ban to Pune City, a two-year ban from participating in any AFC tournaments, and a fine of 50 lakhs (INR). In just months of the incident, it was announced that the club was dissolved and the stakes were sold to a franchise from Hyderabad.

The new owners shifted the base to the southern city of Hyderabad and named the club as Hyderabad FC.

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