Happy the way we stand: Derrick Pereira
As Pune FC sit pretty on nine points from 5 matches, Coach Derrick Pereira stays pretty happy with the start. In a freewheeling interview to www.the-aiff.com, Pereira spoke at length about the start, their squad building mechanism, his brief interaction with India National Team coach Wim Koevermans and much more.
You have started off well - what do you attribute it to?
I'm happy with the way we stand at the moment. But we could have come away with at least one point from the matches we lost consecutively. James Moga was not there for the first two matches as well. So I believe once he regains full fitness we will be a much better team. The important part stays that everybody has chipped in - right from (Nishiguchi) Daisuke to Jeje (Lalpekhlua). Not to forget, Karma has shown a lot of potential.
You play Air India and United Sikkim FC next. What goes through your mind?
We will definitely aim for 6 points from the next two matches but I do not take any team lightly. We will have to fight for it. I take one match at a time and at the moment we are focusing on Air India.
The first two victories, however, didn't come easy. How do you describe it?
I agree we were a bit complacent in the first game after going two goals up. We almost paid the price for it. Then in the second game we showed spirit to come back from being two goals down to win 3-2. Against Pailan we scored at the right time. But we have spotted the positives from the two matches we have lost so far.
How do you plan to change Pune FC's tag from a 'decent team' to top contenders?
The management wants to improve the squad every year. That has been our philosophy. The squad we have this year is one the best I've had. Otherwise, see Indian football has not much of a difference. If you look at it carefully, it's only the foreign recruits like Ranty (Martins), Odafa (Okolie) or (Ryuji) Sueoka who make all the difference. If our guys play to their potential, we can compete for trophies for sure.
Pune FC ended Pailan Arrows' 10 match unbeaten streak. What's your take on AIFF's developmental team and Arthur Papas?
They have some good players and are playing much better football this season. They follow a style and know what to do. Being a developmental side they should be measured by performance and not results. I think, they are going in the right direction.
Who are the favourites to win the I-League?
It's too early to comment. On paper Mohun Bagan, Churchill Brothers, Dempo with their setup and East Bengal look good. Prayag United have a great side too. If we work hard, we are in with a chance as well (laughs). Of course we have to work really hard. Our aim at the moment is to be in the top five.
Finally, do you think the Dutch influence on Indian football will help?
The Dutch model is World famous for their Youth Development Programme. I had a chat with National Coach Wim (Koevermans) after our last match in Kolkata and he told me he would invite all the club coaches to discuss how to develop Indian football. I think that's a brilliant initiative. With his expertise, it will do us a world of good. I'm looking forward to it.