Pune FC will get a taste of big-time football at the IFA Shield 2009 to be played in Kolkata from August 30 to September 12. The first team ever from Pune to qualify for I-League First Division, Pune FC is placed in Group ‘D’ along with AS Douanes (Senegal) and Air India (Mumbai).
Coached by Derrick Pereira and strengthened by the recent signing of Ivory Coast’s Douhou Pierre from Mahindra United, the team looks a neat mix of Indian, local and foreign talent.
Uzbekistan’s Sergey Tokov and Arata Izumi are the other foreign faces in the squad. Performances in events like the IFA Shield will determine whether the combination is on the right track.
Current India goalkeeper Subrata Paul, former international Shanmugham Venkatesh and S. Kuttymani are players who have the experience of performing in pressure matches in Kolkata.
Shouldering the responsibility of forging an effective combination is AFC Pro Licence holder and team coach Pereira. He joined Pune FC after four seasons with Mahindra United and was coach at last year’s IFA Shield when his team humbled South Africa’s Santos FC 3-1 in the final.
Pereira confirmed the availability of current India custodian Paul for the Kolkata tournament, depending on India’s progress in the ongoing Nehru Cup.
Former international Mahesh Lotlikar is the assistant coach.
Pune FC Operations Head, Chirag Tanna said: “It’s an honour to play in the world’s fourth oldest football tournament. The IFA Shield provides the perfect ground to test our strength as a team.”
Pune FC squad: Goalkeepers: Subrata Paul, Narsimhan Balaji; defenders: Othallo Tabia, Caitano Costa, Sunil Kumar, K. Rahul, Chika Wali, Selwyn Fernandes; midfielders: Asim Hassan, Shanmugam Venkatesh, J. Prasad, G. Vignesh, Anees Kutty, S. Kuttymani, Arata Izumi, Godwin Franco, Douhou Pierre, Sergey Tokov; strikers: Jeje Lalpekhlua, T.M. Manoj.