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Indian Super League - ADK is the first champion!

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Screwvala, Abhishek may bid for Chennai franchise CHENNAI: Ronnie Screwvala, founder of media and entertainment group UTV, may bid for a Chennai-based Indian Super League (ISL) team along with actor Abhishek Bachchan, it is reliably learnt. The city was not among the eight ISL teams initially, but with Sun Group pulling out of the Bangalore franchise recently, the organizers decided to shift the venue. "Chennai is most definitely going to be the replacement for Bangalore. Abhishek Bachchan is keen on bidding for a team. He may do so along with Screwvala," said a source. "If the partnership with Screwvala doesn't work out, India Cements or GMR will look to partner with Bachchan as these groups had bid for a team earlier," the source added. Screwvala supposedly had bid for Bangalore franchise during the bidding process. Three parties - Sun Group, JSW and a consortium led by Abhishek Bachchan - had bid for the Bangalore franchise. With Sun Group pulling out, the franchise must have gone to JSW. But due to serious disagreements between JSW and IMG Reliance, the promoters and organizers of ISL, the Bangalore franchise did not go to JSW. Del Piero to play for Delhi? Juventus legend Alessandro del Piero is in advanced talks with Sameer Manchanda of Den Networks, the owners of Delhi Dynamos, to sign up as the marquee player for the team. Many websites had earlier reported that del Piero might be considering a move to India from Sydney. "Delhi is looking to sign him as he is among the biggest names playing in the ISL," said a source. IMG R have almost finalized on shifting from Bangalore to Chennai also due to problems with the two Bangalore stadiums. "JSW, also the owners of Bengaluru FC, are taking a long time to renovate both stadiums (KSFA and Kanteerava Stadium) in Bangalore. While it only takes three weeks to lay a standard international pitch, the organizers decided to shift the venue itself because this renovation seems to have been going on for a long time," the source said. Another source said it remains to be seen whether Bachchan agrees for the venue change to Chennai as he had opted for Bangalore during the bidding process.

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Dattaraj to head Goa franchise, launch on Aug 26 Panaji: The Goa franchise of the Indian Super League, set for launch on August 26, will be headed by Dattaraj Salgaocar. The Goa franchise, registered as Goan FC Pvt Ltd under the societies act, has three directors -- Dattaraj Salgaocar, Shrinivas Dempo and Saurabh Dhoot -- but according to documents submitted by the company for registration with the Goa Football Association, Dattaraj Salgaocar has been named as president, while Rajeev Kulkarni, employed with Dempo group of companies, has been enlisted as secretary. Officials in the know said the franchise will be launched on August 26 at a popular hotel in the city and the name will be announced as well. "There are several names that are under consideration," said the official. The franchise had invited suggestions from fans about the possible name and there were as many as 600 entries. From among those names, Viva Goa and FC Goa are understood to be the most popular, while other suggested names include Goan Gladiators, Goan Dolphins, Beach Boys and Goan Flavours. "There are two different thoughts to the name. First, if we want to make news as a serious football side, especially in the European market, the name has to be football-centric. There are some who feel the name can have a fun element with a strong Goan connect," said a source. It was not immediately known if the franchise would announce the manager at the launch. There are reports, and some strong indications, that Steve Clarke, formerly assistant to Jose Mourinho, the Special One, at Chelsea FC, has agreed a deal to take over the franchise as manager. There is also talk that India cricket star Virat Kohli will be involved with the Goa franchise, either as a partner with sweat equity or purely in an ambassadorial role. "There is lot of interest in the Indian Super League. Even sponsors are showing keen interest in the competition, and although we have not yet confirmed any deals, we remain confident that the future is bright," said another official. It is understood that Adidas will be the kit sponsor for the Goa franchise. The ISL is a new football championship, aiming to foster local talent and feature international stars, making the game one of the country's flagship sports. The ISL will feature eight franchises from Bengaluru, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune. FACTFILE Company name: Goan FC Pvt. Ltd. President: Dattaraj Salgaocar Secretary: Rajeev Kulkarni Directors: Dattaraj Salgaocar, Shrinivas Dempo, Saurabh Dhoot Home ground: Nehru Stadium, Fatorda Training ground: Tilak Maidan, Vasco Colour: Blue/White

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Chopra to play in the ISL Ipswich-v-Watford-Michael-Chopra-Lloyd-Doyley_2903209.jpgMichael Chopra to play in the inaugural Indian Super League. Former Newcastle and Sunderland striker Michael Chopra says he will relinquish British citizenship to play for India after it was announced he would play in the inaugural Indian Super League (ISL). The Newcastle academy product has scored 114 goals in his career in England and has featured for clubs including Sunderland, Cardiff City, Nottingham Forest, Watford and Ipswich. Released by Blackpool this summer, Chopra - whose father is Indian - insists he cannot wait to begin a new chapter in his career. "It's an amazing feeling and I am very excited and privileged to be part of this fantastic opportunity to develop football in India," he told Sky Sports News HQ. “After playing in England for 12,13 years now I'm ready for a new challenge. I’m looking forward to the Indian Super League and getting into the I League after that. “In the future I'd like to open up academies and hopefully one day represent India which has been a dream of mine for some time. My desire to play for India is well known and now I must do all I can to prove my ability and show fans that I'm worthy. “I'd have to give my British passport up to do so but I want to fulfil my career and in years to come I want to tell my son that I was a part of all of this.” The 30-year-old will take part in Thursday's ISL draft for the eight team inter-city league which is the brainchild of the All India Football Federation and its marketing partner IMG. Andy Knee, vice-president of business development at IMG football, said: “We're thrilled that he's signed to participate in the Hero Indian Super League, and look forward to seeing him in action for the very first time on Indian soil." Ajay K Mahan from Michael’s agency SME added: “This opportunity realises Michael’s goal to progress his football career and to reunite him with his Indian heritage which has been a desire of his for a few years.” World Cup winners and European champions Robert Pires and David Trezeguet, and Champions League winner Luis Garcia, are among the marquee names that will play in the league which begins October 12. European sides Atletico Madrid, Fiorentina and Feyenoord have all signed strategic partnerships with Super League clubs while Bollywood actors Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor and John Abraham are team co-owners. Indian cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly are also among the co-owners of different franchises in the ISL which Chopra hopes will help the league mirror the success of the IPL. “The Indian Premier League cricket is on Sky (next year) and is really big,” he added. "While the sport has become increasingly popular all over the world the ISL will put Indian football on the map. The Super League is only just kicking off so I think in years to come it will turn out to be a bit like the IPL. “I think people will start following football more, watch it more and start wanting to play it more." Asian Football Awards founder and football agent Baljit Rihal from Inventive Sports added: “I have worked closely with the SME Group and IMG to ensure that Michael is part of what we believe is a poignant moment in the history of Indian football.”

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ISL to kick off grassroots program in Kolkata KOLKATA: The Indian Super League's grassroots development programme is all set to kick on Sunday with a three-day workshop with an aim to popularise and develop football in the country. ISL's grassroots program is an important aspect of the League's initiative. The commitment for grassroots program was one of the key pre-conditions set by promoters IMG-Reliance and Star India among the bidders, in owning the club other than the financial aspect. The three-day workshop is the first initiative in the grassroots development program by the League organisers and is designed in association with All India Football Federation. Scott O'Donnell, Technical Director - Academies and Director Coach Education at AIFF will conduct the theory as well as practical sessions. The workshop will have participation from the Clubs' grassroots program development managers. Each ISL club have appointed Development Managers and Development Officers who in turn will be responsible for running their respective club's grassroots program and in-school training activities in their city/region. Piet Hubers, Member UEFA Grassroots Working Group and UEFA Grassroots Panel, will also be present at the three-day workshop as special invitee. Hubers has been a member of the UEFA Grassroots Panel since year 2000 and has vast experience in football development at grassroots level. He will oversee the workshop and provide his guidance to the ISL club representatives. The theory session will be held at Camellias Banquets, Axis Mall, New Town, Kolkata while the practical aspect will be organised at Bidhannagar Municipal Sports Complex, Salt Lake.

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ISL offers Rs 15 crore in prize money Panaji: Indian football is set for exponential growth, courtesy the Indian Super League. If money is the key parameter, the ISL's payload -- 11 times the prize money that India's premier football competition offers - promises to take the sport an echelon higher if not more. The I-League, India's top competition which provides winners with a ticket to compete with Asian football's elite, offers a purse of Rs 70 lakh for the winners but the ISL has offered a jaw-dropping Rs 15 crore in prize money which includes Rs 8 crore for the winners. The losing finalist will walk home with a purse of Rs 4 crore while the two other semifinalists who miss out on a place in the final will have to settle for Rs 1.5 crore each, according to tournament rules issued by IMG-Reliance, organizers of the ISL, to all eight participating franchisees. The ISL prize money is second only to the Indian Premier League (IPL) T20 cricket for sports competitions in India. The IPL, which inspired the formation of the ISL, a franchise-based tournament, has Rs 35 crore in prize money alone, with the winners getting richer by Rs 15 crore. Hockey India League (HIL) offers Rs 2.5 crore for the winners, while the ongoing Pro Kabaddi League is a lot less lucrative with prize money of Rs 1 crore. Besides the stated prize money in the Indian Super League, participating clubs will also receive a sum determined by their respective teams' position in the league table at the end of the league matches. The sum, also called the performance bonus, will be calculated as per the participation agreement. "Each team will at the end of the league matches be given a certain number of League Points depending on its final position in the league table before the play-off matches for that ISL season," states the ISL rules, a copy of which is with TOI. "The ISL is a money-spinner and there is no denying that. The I-League, really, is an extremely poor cousin," said one club official. The All India Football Federation, which governs the game and organizes the I-League, has often struggled to get sponsors on board for their blueriband competition. Worse still, at times, they have failed to pay the I-League winners even a year after the competition has ended. Significantly, ISL franchisees and I-League clubs spend an almost equal amount on the players for the season -- approx. Rs 11-12 crore -- although the ISL will involve several other cost like accommodation, infrastructure, youth development, support staff, media and match organisation. The ISL is a new franchise-based football tournament on the lines of the hugely-successful IPL T20 cricket. When it started... Indian Super League Winners: Rs 8 crore Runnersup: Rs 4 crore Indian Premier League T20 Winners: Rs 4.08 crore Runnersup: Rs 2.40 crore Indian Badminton League Winners: Rs 3.5 crore Runnersup: Rs 2 crore Hockey India League Winners: Rs 2.5 crore Runnersup: Rs 1.25 crore Pro Kabaddi League Winners: Rs 50 lakh Runnersup: Rs 25 lakh

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ISL grassroots workshop to train million kids KOLKATA: Aimed at scouting and nurturing a million budding footballers, the Indian Super League (ISL) on Sunday kicked off its ambitious Grassroots Development Programme with a three-day workshop here. All India Football Federation's (AIFF) Technical Director of Academies and Director Coach Education Scott O'Donnell, who is supervising the programme, said the ISL will play a catalytic role in raising the sport's profile in the country. "There is no doubt the ISL and the involvement of international stars including the likes of Michael Chopra and Freddie Ljungberg will play a big role in raising the game's profile in India. Indian football is now getting into the newspapers and the media, this is what you need," said O'Donnell. "The aim at working at the grassroots is to make kids enjoy the game and its following increases. We want as many boys and girls to come forward. The programme aims to train at least a million kids." Under the programme, each of the eight ISL franchises have pooled Rs.2 crore and appointed development managers and officers entrusted with the responsibility of scouting and training budding talents. O'Donnell and Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Grassroots Working Group member Piet Hubers held a theory session Sunday with the development managers and officers as a part of the initiative. "It's not only about the basic skills of football but also about the approaches the trainers need to adopt while scouting and training the kids. The theory session involves lessons on the technical aspects of the game and scientific approaches about motivation, fitness training etc," said an ISL official. "Contribution of the franchises towards the programme was one of the basic qualifications during bidding because our aim is to take the game to every nook and corner of the country." The next workshop is expected to be held in New Delhi or Mumbai at the end of the month.

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Trezeguet: India move a dream football-david-trezeguet-juventus-france_3192384.jpgFormer Juventus player David Trezeguet greets fans prior to the Serie A match between Juventus and AS Roma Former Juventus striker David Trezeguet says playing in the inaugural Indian Super League is his opportunity to help build a dream for a billion people in the sub-continent. The 36-year-old has been signed up as the marquee player for Pune City FC in the eight-team league devised by IMG and the All India Football Federation, commencing October 12. Trezeguet, a former European Championship and World Cup winner with France, has just finished a three-year stint playing in Argentina with River Plate and Newell’s Old Boys. And the former Monaco striker insists the challenge of helping develop football in the world’s second most populated country is his chance to give something back to the game. “India is a special country in so many ways and I have always had the desire to go to India,” Trezeguet told Sky Sports. “Of all the possibilities that I had, the Indian opportunity was the one I enthusiastically wanted and not just for football reasons. “When I learned about this project and the role I would play in building a dream, not just for one, but for one billion people, my heart just said ‘I have to do this’. “For me the role and the connection with my heart is the most important thing. This is a new step for me and an important experience in my career – now it’s time to give something back.” Joining the Frenchman in the ISL are players including former Liverpool forward Luis Garcia and the man who set Trezeguet up for the winning goal in the final of Euro 2000, Robert Pires. “For both me and Robert Pires it will be another meeting in this new experience,” Trezeguet added. “He is a great person and I consider him a great personal friend.” Pune City FC CEO Gaurav Modwel says he is delighted to have lured a player of Trezeguet’s calibre to the ISL. “David is the absolute top name in the ISL up until now,” he said. “We always wanted our marquee player and our best player to be a striker. “David has achieved so much in the game and will be a big motivator for the rest of the players here at Pune City FC. We’re all very, very excited and proud to have him in our team.” Prashant Agarwal, CEO of Kshatriya Sports - the agency that brokered the deal taking Trezeguet to the ISL - added: “It’s my personal passion and dream to develop football in India. Football was the tool used my Mahatma Gandhi to start his movement of non-violence and freedom - it can change many things. “David is the perfect role model to do this in India. India needs people like him as he brings hope to 1.2 billion people there.”

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#HeroISL is happy to unveil the names of all footballers participating in the International Player Draft this week. Complete lists are attached. The comprehensive list boasts of experienced footballers and young promising talents from across the world with an average age of 28 years, having played 8197 competitive matches in various leagues globally with an average of 186 appearances per player. A warm welcome to all 49 players! BvUjC3iIYAEv8yG.pngBvUjIKcIMAAHp9L.pngBvUjXonIIAAEQpi.pngBvUjkQXIEAAYBjI.pngBvUjucNIcAADg-c.png

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Pune: Rajesh Wadhawan Group-owned Pune franchise of Indian Super League, FC Pune City on unveiled its full players` list along with the official team jersey for the inaugural edition of the IPL-style tournament set to commence on October 12. Following the selection of five international players in the draft yesterday, the team has a full squad of 10 international players and 14 domestic players. Eleven out of the 14 Indian players were present at the unveiling of the team here. This is the first time that the 11 Indian players have come together here as they prepare themselves to represent the team in the ISL that is set to conclude on December 20. The Squad: Former Juventus striker David Trezeguet as the marquee player, Bruno Cirillo, Emanuele Belardi, Daniele Magliocchetti, Davide Colomba, Lenny Rodrigues, Dharmaraj Ravanan, Ashutosh Mehta, Joaquim Abranches, Pritam Kotal, Manish Maithani, Israil Gurung, Deepak Devrani, Tapan Maity, Arindam Bhattacharya, Anupam Sarkar, Pratik Shinde, Lalit Thapa, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Andres Felipe Gonzalez Ramirez, Saidou Mady Panandetiguiri, Omar Andres Rodriguez Martinez, Ivan Bolado Palacios and Park Kwang-Il. The team has also got on board former Serie A Italian midfielder Franco Colomba as the head coach. "Following yesterday`s international player draft, the entire playing squad is in place and shall be led by our marquee player David Trezequet who will play a big role as a team mentor and player. I am confident that the Indian and overseas players will blend in together and play some great football for the Indian fans," said the team`s CEO Gaurav Modwel. "It is FC Pune City`s objective to provide aspiring and young Indian football players an opportunity to play alongside international football players. Our association with ACF Fiorentina provides our players the unique benefit of being trained and coached in a globally acclaimed football ecosystem," he added. Shri Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex at Balewadi, with a seating capacity of 12000, is the home ground for the team. Incidentally, it is also one of the eight stadiums selected for the 2017 FIFA Under-17 World Cup, to be hosted by the country. The team would commence their practice sessions from August 24 and utilise facilities at the Symbiosis University, Infosys Pune DC (Development Centre) and the Balewadi Stadium. FC Pune City has a strategic tie-up with Italian football major ACF Fiorentina, which boasts of a robust legacy of being among the top five clubs that have played the maximum number of Series A matches. The team launched its official jersey as the first visual merchandise of its brand identity. DIDA has come on board as the team`s official kitting partner. In addition, the team also launched its Facebook page - www.facebook.com/FCPuneCity. BvpH8l7CYAEdB70.jpgBvpXmZ7IAAABeYq.pngBvpYWqLCcAARiSE.jpg

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Lena wants to inspire in India LenaFallkvistFCPuneCity_3194442.jpgLena Fallkvist: Wants to inspire women in India Lena Fallkvist hopes her appointment as fitness and conditioning coach for Indian Super League side FC Pune City can inspire women throughout the sub-continent. The 51-year-old is the only female recruited as a member of the backroom staff for any of the eight teams competing in the inaugural league which commences on October 12. And the Swede says she cannot wait to begin her new assignment, insisting she is motivated by the prospect of becoming a role model for millions of women in India. “I’m very excited and I'm so ready to go now,†Fallkvist told Sky Sports. “It will be quite an experience for me to play a part in the starting of this new league. “As someone who loves football it's nice to know I will be going there and doing something good and something I love. I'm really hoping to do something good for Indian soccer. “I'm proud to be the one they asked to come over and I haven’t taken on this role for the money, I’m doing it from the heart. Hopefully I can inspire other women to play soccer and to train. “I’m doing this for the cause and I'm going to do my best to be a role model for other women to come after me. That’s what really motivates me.†Fallkvist, who has previously worked with former Inter Milan athletic trainer Stefano Rapetti, will link up with former Juventus striker David Trezeguet, who is Pune’s designated marquee player in the ISL. “It’s a dream of course and a of course a big, big honour to be working with David Trezeguet,†she said. “I’ve worked with world title winners in other sports but I’ve never worked with a soccer player as famous as that. “I think I will be working very closely with David because he doesn’t speak English but he speaks Italian and so do I. “I guess I will have to translate a little bit, but I’m also looking forward to talking to him about the wonderful goal he scored to win Euro 2000 with France. I think everyone in India will be thrilled to see him.†Fallkvist’s move to Pune was facilitated by Kshatriya Sports CEO Prashant Agarwal who also brokered Trezeguet’s deal to the ISL. He said: “All I have to say about Lena's move is nothing in this world is complete without a woman. To really develop this beautiful game of football in India, we need to encourage women. Lena's move to ISL is first step towards this beautiful dream.â€

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ISL - Lena ready to step into male bastion Lena Fallqvist will be arriving in India one month before the ISL. CHENNAI: A woman fitness coach in a men's football team isn't a common occurrence.But at 51, Lena Fallqvist from Sweden wants to bring about a change in perception; she has joined the Indian Super League (ISL) team FC Pune City as its fitness coach. "I'm proud to be able to do this. I am not doing it for the money , I am doing this to be a role model to other women in the country ," Fallqvist told TOI on Monday . "It's not only football but I have also worked with men in other sports like badminton, rugby etc in Sweden and Norway. So, this role is nothing new to me. But my ultimate goal is to make the team fit enough to win some matches," she said. Fallqvist, who was brought to India by Prashant Agarwal of Kshatriya Sports, has previously worked with Norway's national team. She was working with many Swedish top division clubs like Stenungsund IF and Surte BK before inking the deal with Pune. She will be arriving in India a month before ISL kicks off. "Well, I am still not a super trainer. I need some time to make the players fit enough for the league and help them fight injuries. At the same time, I will focus on the rehabilitation of those fighting injuries," she said. The Indian chapter, she says, will be a new challenge. "I was in India during a connecting flight 35 years ago when I was going to Australia for training. Now, I have been trying to read a bit and prepare myself for a new culture and experience. It's going to be exciting. As for the weather, coming from Sweden, I can say I love the warm weather. It won't be difficult for me," she said. Understandably, Fallqvist's most important assign ment would be to prepare the foreign players for India's warm weather. "My role is to make the players strong physically . The heat will be difficult for all of us but I think there's a difference in each person on how he adapts to the weather. I will focus on that," she said. "As the team's nutritionist, I feel food and drink is also important for the players to fight dehydration. " For Gaurav Modwel, Pune FC CEO, who has been promoting women's football, Fallqvist was an immediate signing. "I have seen a woman working as the physiotherapist for under-13 and under-15 boys. But I have never seen any woman being part of the senior men's team. We believe women empowerment is the need of the hour and we thought of setting an example," he said. "Over the course of the league, we will come up with various other programmes and initiatives to promote women's sports, "he added. Lena at a glance She has been associated with the Norway men's football team as physiotherapist Has worked with many Swedish Athletes who have represented in Olympics Has worked with top Swedish football clubs like Stenungsund IF, Surte BK Was a national level canoeist, and a long distance runner.

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Colomba: ISL is like shorter version of Champions League 438194_heroa.jpgThe FC Pune coach is excited about the upcoming tournament and can't wait to start working on the new project in hand... The former Bologna manager, Franco Colomba believes the Indian Super League (ISL) will kick-start a new chapter in his career. "I'm happy and looking forward to begin this amazing challenge. I know India thanks to books and TV but I'm curious now," he said. "Fiorentina contacted me and offered the job. I thought it would have been a good opportunity on both professional and human side and I accepted with no hesitation. Just a one-year deal in the beginning, because when you start up such a new project you have to verify many things on site," the FC Pune City boss added. Colomba also announced his coaching staff that will be travelling from Italy. "There will be some Italians along with me. Giovanni Mei will be my deputy. He already trained abroad in Iran, then the fitness trainer Juri Bartoli and the goalkeeper coach Piero Spinosa. And some players of course: Bruno Cirillo, Emanuel Belardi, Magliocchetti and my son Davide. They're all professionals, with significant Serie A stints in their CV." The former Reggina manager found ISL to be very different from the tournaments he has come across in his career so far. "The ISL will begin in October, that means I'll assemble the team in just one month. The league has very fast schedule, it will be over for Christmas. It's like a double-speed Champions League, it will be my Champions League. The average level in India at the moment is not really high but there's the potential to do a good job. Let's see what happens," he said in an interview with Corriere Dello Sport. The Italian has identified David Trezeguet as his go-to man in the side and says his experience will come in handy for the development of the team. "Trezeguet will be our leader, I hope he'll be followed by our young players. They need to learn from him how to be a professional," he concluded.

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I have come here to win the tournament’ – FC Pune City midfielder Lenny Rodrigues 292745_heroa.jpgThe India international believes that the new league conceptualise by IMG-Reliance will capture the imagination of the nation... EXCLUSIVE By Ayush Srivastava Lenny Rodrigues is one of the star attractions in the Indian contingent of the FC Pune City line-up. An I-League and Federation Cup winner with Churchill Brothers and an integral part of the national team’ midfield, the Goan has left the comfort zone of his home state for the first time ever in his career, to represent the Pune franchisee in the Indian Super League (ISL). The midfielder though, is excited getting this opportunity, and is focused on the task at hand. He stated, “It is very exciting for me to play for FC Pune City and it’s a new destination for me. I have come here to win the tournament. The player has visited Pune often the past, while playing in the I-League, and revealed how he hold the football fanbase of the city in the highest regard. He told Goal, “The atmosphere (in the stadium) Pune is always very good. When I played away games here, the people really supported their team.” Speaking about the ISL venture, which has grabbed several headlines; Lenny was optimistic about the project being a positive one for Indian football and mentioned, “I think it’s a good start for Indian football. They (The ISL clubs) will also be working on grassroots and good foreign players are coming in. It will be a good experience to play with them.” While unsure if the ISL will go on to be expanded and eventually take over the I-League, the Indian International was confident that the new league, with the right packaging, would help attract the crowds to Indian stadiums. He commented, “It depends on them (the authorities). I think the ISL should be continued and more and more people will be attracted to football. “For me, the ISL will be good because good foreigners are also coming and people want to see how top Europeans (players) play football,” he added. Further discussing the packed calendar that awaits Indian player with a busy ISL scheduling follow by a Federation Cup and I-League appearance, the midfielder conceded that fatigue could prove to be a factor for many players. However, he felt players would have to find their way round such a problem. He said, “Of course it will be tiring tournament with back to back matches and players need rest but anyhow we have to adjust to the situation. It is upto the players." On a personal level, Lenny cannot wait to share the same pitch as World Cup winner David Trezeguet and stated, “I look forward to playing with David Trezeguet. He is a World Cupper and I never saw him face to face. Now I will meet him.”

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FC Pune City are close to signing Di Donato DanieleDIDONATO_2008.jpg FC Pune City keep shopping in Italy. The Indian club, controlled by Fiorentina owners Della Valle, contacted the former Cittadella Daniele Di Donato. The 37-year-old midfielder is now a free agent. The parties are very close, the player has already agreed to the transfer, attracted by the opportunity of playing in such a different environment and football. He hasn’t signed yet, even though the white smoke could arrive in the next hours. Di Donato could leave Italy and move to India.

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Trezeguet's Del Piero hope Trezpic_2432835.jpgDavid Trezeguet: Eyes Alessandro Del Piero reunion World Cup winner David Trezeguet has welcomed the impending arrival of former Juventus team-mate Alessandro Del Piero in the Indian Super League. Juventus legend Del Piero is understood to have undergone a medical at the weekend and looks set to pen a deal to join the Delhi Dynamos franchise in the inaugural eight-team league. An announcement confirming Del Piero’s participation in the ISL is expected soon, although Hungarian side Honved had made a late move to lure the 39-year-old to Europe. Former Monaco and River Plate striker Trezeguet, who is the designated marquee player for FC Pune City, admits he is looking forward to the prospect of Del Piero joining him in India. “In relation to Alessandro Del Piero - it would be an excellent opportunity to share our old memories of playing together,” Trezeguet told Sky Sports. “If his arrival is certain, then it will be a great feeling to play together again.” Trezeguet himself is excited to play a key role in what he thinks is an exciting chapter in Indian football history. “FC Pune City is a club with good people working for it and I am glad to be chosen to start the history of a club which has the potential to be very big,” he said. “The expectations are high but I have a desire to learn. This is a new step for me and it will be a very enriching experience.” The league kicks off on October 12 and will feature former Arsenal duo Robert Pires and Freddie Ljunberg as well as ex-Liverpool Champions League winners Luis Garcia and Josemi. Former England goalkeeper David James is player-manager of the Sachin Tendulkar co-owned Kerala Blasters franchise, and his first job was to sign up Michael Chopra in last week’s International Players Draft. Former Newcastle and Cardiff striker Chopra has an Indian father and admits moving to India to play in the inaugural league is a special moment for his whole family. "It’s a matter of huge personal pride and playing in India would be one of my biggest achievements to date," Chopra told Sky Sports. "My grandparents are from Jalandhar in the Punjab and came to England in the 1950s. The connection to India is strong and my father is understandably very proud of this. "I am passionate about utilising my football experience to achieve success both for Indian football and myself."

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Where will this league rank in terms of popularity?
The league haven't even have their 1st year so impossible to rank its popularity. But IMO...considering the business houses, top names in sports/Bollywood & quite a lot of money involved...will be a success. India haven't seen LIVE top class soccer. AIFF had such poor facilities and even poorer organization that soccer is killed before it start. But this is a new....fresh start. As expected the foreign players are not the cream....but its a good start. Hoping the popularity of ISL goes IPL way :pray:

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The league haven't even have their 1st year so impossible to rank its popularity. But IMO...considering the business houses, top names in sports/Bollywood & quite a lot of money involved...will be a success. India haven't seen LIVE top class soccer. AIFF had such poor facilities and even poorer organization that soccer is killed before it start. But this is a new....fresh start. As expected the foreign players are not the cream....but its a good start. Hoping the popularity of ISL goes IPL way :pray:
I think this League will be successful not as much as IPL but it will be for sure :two_thumbs_up: Hope they gets more famous foreigners no matter if not big names but at least known once :dance: At least next season if not this one :agree:

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Official: Del Piero joins Delhi Dynamos 449950_heroa.jpgThe former Juventus forward will continue his career in India after two seasons with Sydney FC in the A-League... Alessandro Del Piero has confirmed on his official Facebook page that he has signed a four-month deal with Indian Super League (ISL) side Delhi Dynamos.

I’m pleased to announce that today I am a @DelhiDynamos player and ambassador of the @IndSuperLeague #Adp10 #HeroISL — Alessandro Del Piero (@delpieroale) August 28, 2014

The former Italy international has also been confirmed as the brand ambassador of the two-and-a-half-month long tournament. Goal had earlier exclusively reported Del Piero's move to Delhi Dynamos, which was to be official announced on Thursday in India - the same day the ISL was formally launched. "The contract was to be signed over the weekend. However, a few issues needed to be ironed out. He (Del Piero) was lured not just by the Delhi deal but also the fact that he was to be the face of the new league in India," a source close to the development informed Goal on Thursday. Del Piero also discussed the rocky relationship between India and Italy, with two Italian marines still awaiting trial in the Asian country after allegedly killing two fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012. "I know that my choice to go and play in India has raised some doubts about the relationship between Italy and India, related to the story of the two marines held there," the former Juventus and Sydney FC striker said. "Said that, I don't think about being the only Italian, who has relations with India for professional reasons, I know that what I do has an impact on broader media: I would gratefully accept the responsibilities that my role entails." The 2006 World Cup winner also stressed that sport should be used to united rather than divide. "In this case I am aware and satisfied with my choice, I'm not going to a country "hostile" and the last thing I would want is an exploitation of my role, and especially that sport becomes a means used to divide rather than to unite," he said. "Being an Italian, as all my fellow countrymen, I am not insensitive to the story of our marines and I hope you come soon to a positive conclusion for them, and that is the most just." The all-time Juventus top scorer added that he wanted to bring a positive message to India through the sport of football. "I'm a football player, I will go to India to play football, to honor my sport and doing what's right now are happy to do: bring a positive message combined with values of sport and to the spread of football in countries far from the traditional routes. Like India with its "Indian Super League"." As per contractual obligations the former Italy international is expected to make at least four-to-five promotional appearances for the league organisers. Del Piero scored 208 goals in 513 appearances for Juventus before spending the past two seasons in the A-League with Sydney FC, where he hit the back of the net 24 times in 48 matches. The 39-year-old has joined the likes of Luis Garcia, David James and former Juventus team-mate David Trezeguet as marquee player for the inaugural ISL season.

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Chennai Titans in talks with Ronaldinho Ronaldinho_2082869g.jpgCHENNAI-BOUND? An ISL stint will allow Ronaldinho to play for an MLS side early next year, which is the player's desire. Player keen on short-term contract, which is likely to work in franchise’s favour Indian Super League franchise team Chennai Titans is in talks with two-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Ronaldinho. The Hindu has learnt that the Brazilian legend has been approached by the Chennai team, according to a highly-placed source. The player’s brother, Roberto de Assis, who is also his agent, is negotiating the terms of the contract. If progress is made, he will arrive in India with Ronaldinho to finalise the deal, the source said. Titans — which was represented by cine star Abhishek Bachchan at the ISL’s emblem launch function in Mumbai on Thursday — is looking to sign Ronaldinho for a period of two years. The Brazilian superstar is keen on a short-term contract, which is likely to work in Titans’ favour. An ISL stint will allow him to play for a Major League Soccer side in the USA early next year, which is his desire. In the previous decade, the dazzling attacker was one of the most recognised faces in world football, with his sublime dribbling and clinical finishing in front of goal. His carefree attitude on and off the field, which came from his unbridled love for the sport, added to his charm. The 34-year-old achieved success in both his international and club careers. He scored 33 goals in 97 matches for Brazil, apart from winning multiple titles in his stints with Barcelona, AC Milan and Paris St. Germain.

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TEAM REPRESENTATIVES EXUDE OPTIMISM AT HERO ISL LAUNCH isl-launchnews323.jpg Eight high profile representatives of the owners of the clubs that will compete in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) came together on the stage for the first time to celebrate the launch of the ISL. Later, they all shared their brief thoughts on their expectations and plans for youth development. Here are a few excerpts: Varun Dhawan (FC Goa): I don’t know anyone who can say anything against Goa. Deep down we are all Goan at heart. Goa has a deep connection with football and we have on board two of the most successful clubs in Dempo and Salgaocar who between them have won seven major titles in the last few years. And to connect with youth we also have Videocon who will bring the technology into the equation. We will have shacks on the beach and kiosks to promote the team all over Goa and maybe all over India as well. We will play an exciting and entertaining brand of football that will reflect the spirit of the place. Sameer Manchanda (Delhi Dynamos FC): We’ll make Delhi the football capital of India for sure. Our main emphasis will be grassroots development which will be reflected in our Junior Dynamos programme which will reach out to 100 schools in the NCR region. We want to take football to the streets and have kids playing gully football just as they do gully cricket, using two stumps as goalposts. Utsav Parekh (Atletico de Kolkata): Football is a way of life in Kolkata. We have a very ambitious plan for football development and we have employed a coach for three years; as soon as the ISL is over we will get into our grassroots programme. We have made it clear to ‘Dada’ (Sourav Ganguly) that from now on it will be only football, no cricket. And Dada has given his pledge that it will be so. John Abraham (NorthEast United FC): I used to play football when I was young but I had to make a choice between education and sports and I chose education. I am now realising my dream through NorthEast United FC. I’ve been a part of the football scenario for a long time now and I’m also a co-owner of Shillong Lajong. I’ve spoken to the club owners and each one of them shares the passion for football and for making the ISL a success. Abhishek Bachchan (Team Chennai): As far as knowledge is concerned, we have a very able set up and I’ll leave the technical part of the game to them. But I do have the zeal and it is all driven by passion. It is very important when you are setting up a new venture. As far as most people are concerned, we are all looking forward to working hard and getting down and dirty and making this endeavour a success. Kapil Wadhavan (FC Pune City): Pune represents passion, youth, exuberance. The demographic profile of Pune is very different from the other cities in India and we have a population that is young. In this (domestic) draft we didn’t have a single player from Pune which was unfortunate. Hopefully, the grassroots initiatives that we will launch will redress that deficiency. As for the ‘Salman (Khan) Kick’, the kick will come when we win the league! Ranbir Kapoor (Team Mumbai): As a fan I’ve been yearning for quality football in our country and with the ISL we now have that. Reliance is a pioneer in building India and with the IMG-Reliance we just want to build something that will last forever. I’m really overwhelmed at being here and I wish all the team owners all the best and all the luck and hope to see you at the game. Sachin Tendulkar (Kerala Blasters): Be it cricket or football, I will always support sport in India. I have a provision for sport in India and in my word I call it ‘Sport for All’. I want people to take up sports, not in order to become professional sportspersons but to be healthy and fit. It will be my happiest moment when India is recognised as a healthy and vibrant nation. The talent is there in India. It is important for everyone to make the most of this platform.

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What about Live coverage of the game? Which channel is going to cover it?
I want to know who is broadcasting it internationally. Hoping ISL tie up with youtube and provide streaming for Rest of the World (atleast free for the 1st 10 year of the league)

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I want to know who is broadcasting it internationally. Hoping ISL tie up with youtube and provide streaming for Rest of the World (atleast free for the 1st 10 year of the league)
Same feeling here. Hope some free to Air channels in Europe/UK is given the deal. I am sure they will happily cover it

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Ronaldinho and Chennai Titans have signed a two years contract for Rs 36 Crores (Approx). Waiting for official source
:hysterical: And we were thinking that ISL will have less budget then IPL....& that cricketers are paid in IPL big time. If confirmed...this should put cricketers in their place & also make them pull up their socks...& perform.

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Ronaldinho for Chennai? Agents Say Brazilian Star Yet to be Approached CHENNAI: Will he or won’t he? That is the question all football fans in India are seeking answer to. The man in question is none other than two-time World Player of the Year and former Barcelona ace Ronaldinho. On Friday, rumours flooded the internet about the Brazilian midfielder’s possible arrival to play for the Chennai franchise in the Indian Super League. While Express understands that the idea has been discussed by Chennai officials, others went one step further. Philip Harmeling, a Germany-based football agent, even went as far as tweeting that Ronaldinho had agreed terms. “Ronaldinho snubs MLS for Indian Super League! He joined the Titans Chennai for two years with total pay of €4.6 million,” he posted on his Twitter page. His comments were picked up by a number of online media outlets, many mistaking it for confirmation of the deal. While Chennai Titans are understood to be exploring the possibility of signing the World-Cup winner, it seems any interest is one-sided at the moment. Marcelo Sander, a FIFA-licensed football agent, who works for the Assis-Moreira football agency, which represents Ronaldinho and is run by the 34-year-old’s brother Roberto de Assis, told Express that no deal had been reached with anybody from India. “No, it is not true,” he said when asked about the Ronaldinho-to-India rumour. In a way, it is a deal that makes a lot of sense. Ronaldinho’s career is going nowhere after he was released by Atletico Mineiro last month. He was linked with a number of clubs including Santos, Queens Park Rangers and Boca Juniors and was rumoured to be close to signing for Brazilian club Palmeiras, only for them to announce that the move had fallen through for financial reasons. A move to ISL will allow him time to negotiate a deal in Major League Soccer in the US, a path that Alessandro Del Piero is going to take. But the talk sure has captured the imagination of fans and fellow players alike with Chennai draftee and former Manchester United star Bojan Djordjic already expressing his excitement. “My team Chennai Titans in talks with Ronaldinho. That would be a dream signing,” he tweeted. But will someone like Ronaldinho really come and play for a team in India? “If Del Piero just signed, so can Ronaldinho,” Djordjic believes. He can, but will he?

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Almost every team is backed by a big Industrial group plus a celebrity so money may not be a big issue. Mumbai and Kerala will struggle big time.
They have Goddy. Also, its co-owned by the PVP Group. So money shouldn't be an issue.

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:hysterical: And we were thinking that ISL will have less budget then IPL....& that cricketers are paid in IPL big time. If confirmed...this should put cricketers in their place & also make them pull up their socks...& perform.
Hopefully this league grows. Crickets dominance has led to likes of Srini thinking they will control indian sports market forever. As always competition is the key

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PARMESH NAIK: KIDS MUST PLAY THE GAME AND HAVE FUN prameshnaik.jpg Parmesh Naik, development manager, FC Pune City, reveals how kids will be taught to play the ‘Fiorentina way’. Your football journey: I’ve been a Maharashtra state player, and I played in the Santosh Trophy ten years back as well, after which I was a semi-professional player in the Mumbai league. I eventually quit and got back to studies and work, but in the back of my mind I always wanted to get back to football and sport, and I did when I worked on the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. And now I’m back in football, working with FC Pune City. Your team’s focus on grassroots football: The Wadhawan Group has been associated with sports for quite some time now. They were involved in the Sri Lanka Premier League, and even with the Mumbai Indians in the IPL. Our CEO is also involved with India On Track and the Arsenal Soccer Schools. The ISL is a stepping stone, and the Pune franchise would want to do a lot on the grassroots front going forward. The benefits of a foreign technical tie-up: We’ve tied up with Fiorentina, and a large part of that partnership is focused towards the first team, but going forward they are looking to put in a lot of effort in grassroots development, and teach kids the “Fiorentina way”. Since the technical partnership extends to the first team, they are also responsible for how the team performs on the pitch. The complete technical staff is from Italy. When it comes to how football should be run, very few companies or organizations in India really have that knowledge, so we needed to get in a partner who is well-versed with what has to be done from an administrative and technical point of view. Your grassroots vision: For me, grassroots football is all about the basic introduction of the sport to children. If you take cricket as an example, we were introduced to it when we were very young, and played it in the streets or in our homes. I would want something similar for football, in the sense that the sport has to be introduced to children at a young age, where they can just play the game and have fun. That’s where grassroots football starts. Then we have to make the child develop a true interest in the game. After that, things take shape automatically. Your city’s unique advantages & disadvantages: Pune has been on the football map for quite some time, with Pune FC in the I-League. We’ve always had a good footballing culture, and there’s always been a lot of good support for the game. There are a lot of convent schools as well, and football is a big thing there. Being from Pune, I can say that football has always been around, but it’s the quality of football that has been lacking. It’s something that we expect the ISL to deliver. Pune has one big disadvantage though, which are the lack of quality grounds. We somehow lack the right infrastructure when it comes to stadiums and grounds, and the team really struggled to find a decent training facility. We finally did, but this is a big challenge for the city in general. Your team’s immediate grassroots plans: We will be conducting around 50-60 one-day football clinics in schools around Pune. We will also be doing a lot of community development by the way of getting parents together and explaining to them what grassroots football is all about, and how we’re looking at growing football in the city. After all, it’s not just about getting children involved, but about getting parents involved as well.

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LEONARDO LIMATOLA: WE NEED TO INCORPORATE FOOTBALL CULTURE leanardo-limatola.jpg Leonardo Limatola, head of planning and development, ACF Fiorentina, was down in Mumbai for the launch of the FC Pune City. The Italian club have a technical tie-up with the Pune club for the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) and Limatola shared his views on Indian football and his vision for the future in this interview: Are you familiar with Indian football and its players? It has been not so easy to get familiar with the Indian players. First of all, there weren’t any inbuilt profiles of the players participating in the I-League. We watched the matches of the last two seasons and looked at the players to build the profiles. How do you rate Indian football? The quality of Indian football can be compared to Italian fourth division at the moment. Sometimes, you find people making silly errors. That means that things are lacking in this country. We need to incorporate football culture, bring in specialized coaches and specialized trainers, and need to use more expert players. Some players in the ISL bring in a lot of experience, it will help other players to play better. We have to find the right combination of experienced players and young players. All the young players would like to learn something. We tried to sign a lot of young players. [Lalrindika] Ralte was one of our options, but he wasn’t available till the first week of October. Now as the tournament dates are pushed further, he will be available for the whole tournament. Our first choice was Lenny (Rodrigues), but Ralte was in our top wish list. What do you think about the young players at your disposal? Pritam Kotal is young and has the ability to learn new things. He is a good player in the making. We have lots of good players. Some players have played in multiple positions so we have to focus on specialization of player roles. The lack of a sports culture has been a hindrance in India. What is to be done? Involvement of people is important. Football can be played by two people and even one person can concentrate on his own training. In Mumbai, I saw people playing cricket on the beaches. In Italy or in any other place we would see people playing football. We should get people involved in football. They watch football on TV, but they cannot imitate the action. You get emotional when you see a bicycle kick by Mario Gomes or when (Daniele) De Rossi dribbles past players and takes an amazing shot. When you do not have space to try these things out, people will not feel their involvement. How can Pune City bring about development in Indian football? For the development of the club we need to start with good organization. We have to improve the quality and knowhow in Indian football. Football is an amazing sport. We must get people to co-operate, to do team work. We know the social importance of football, getting people involved, it will help them feel closer to their country. How can we popularize football in India? All the world plays football so in India also people have to play football. First of all, we have to make it a national game. The show must be great. We need to give emotions to people. Football is emotional: the emotion of passion, the emotion of fighting. If we put his on the field people will follow us.

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RAVANAN-RODRIGUES COMBO TARGET ISL SUCCESS ravanan-rodrigues.jpgDharmaraj Ravanan (L) and Lenny Rodrigues © ISL Over the past four years the Dharmaraj Ravanan-Lenny Rodrigues combination has flourished like no other on the Indian football circuit and helped Churchill Brothers win every major trophy that the domestic game has to offer. The list of silverware that the dynamic duo has brought home to Varca, the touristy village in South Goa where the family-run club is based, include the Durand Cup and IFA Shield (both in 2011), the prestigious I-League in 2012-13 and the fairly important Federation Cup staged in Kerala in early 2014. Their partnership began when Ravanan moved to Churchill Brothers after the Mumbai-based Mahindra United folded up in 2010. Now, the easy going Tamilian defender from Trichy and the laid-back Goan defensive midfielder are set to continue their partnership at FC Pune City in the upcoming Hero Indian Super League (ISL) and hope to replicate the success of the past. Rodrigues was the first player among the 84 available to be picked by a club at the recent domestic player draft and Pune followed that up by pocketing Ravanan in the second round to cash in on their compatibility and winning record. “It’s great to be playing in the same team as Lenny. We’ve played together for four-five years now and I know his style since I play directly behind him, and he knows mine too,” the suave stopper back who can also play along the wings, said. On his part, Rodrigues, who has modelled his game on fellow Goan great Climax Lawrence (now with Atletico de Kolkata), has some good words to say about his inspirational skipper at Churchill Brothers: “He’s a good reader of the game, good man-to-man marker and a clean tackler besides.” Although the lanky 6 foot 1 inch Rodrigues is the more famous player and the mainstay of the national team with 19 caps, as well as elder to Ravanan by a couple of months (both are 27), he looks up to the latter. “We are good friends off the pitch and I take his advice on important matters,” the Cesc Fabregas fan revealed. When it comes to food there is a divergence of tastes as Ravanan loves South Indian food while Rodrigues digs the Goan staple – fish curry & rice! A Tamil movie buff and Arsenal supporter, Ravanan rates Mahesh Gawli as the best player he has played against, and Lebanese defender Bilal Sheikh El Najjarin, who was at Churchill Brothers for the first half of the 2012-13 season, as one of the best players he’s ever played with. Both however concede that they will have to up the ante against the superior breed of foreign players that they will play with and against in the ISL. But they are up for the challenge. “The foreigners who are going to be playing in the ISL will be much better. The defenders especially will be much stronger physically and defensively. So we have to raise our standard to compete with them,” Ravanan said.

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‘PUNE CITY WILL PLAY FIORENTINA BRAND OF ATTACKING FOOTBALL’ fiorentina-brand.jpg© ISL Italian football is traditionally associated with rock-solid defence, having popularised catenaccio,the extreme defensive strategy that made Italian teams once near-impossible to beat. However, Associazione Calcio Firenze Fiorentina are the antithesis of this stereotype, playing an attractive brand of possession-based attacking football. The club representatives now want to implement this philosophy with FC Pune City, who have announced a tie-up with the Italian giants. “Fiorentina is playing with one of the most beautiful football styles in Europe. We would like to put our philosophy into practice through Franco Colomba, Pune City head coach. We are looking to play positive football by holding the ball and by attacking the opposition when we are able to,” revealed Leonardo Limatola, head, planning and development, ACF Fiorentina. He however clarified that “playing offensive football doesn’t mean playing with more or less defensive players. It is an attitude, and it depends on the quality and the ability of the players. If you have good defenders, you need to play with good defenders and they will love to go all the way (to the opposition box),” he explained. Sharing his thoughts on Indian football and his expectations on the occasion of the launch of Pune City and the announcement of the Italian club’s association with the new venture, Limatola said, “The quality of Indian football can be compared to the Italian fourth division at the moment. We need to incorporate a football culture, bring in specialized coaches and specialized trainers, use more expert players.” Fiorentina have first-hand experience of the Italian fourth division, because that is where, after the previous incarnation of the club went bankrupt, a resurrected Viola (the name derives from their purple home colours) kicked off in 2002, before quickly clawing their way back into Serie A (where they have finished in the top four twice in succession now) and becoming regular competitors in European football. Their experience of starting anew and rebuilding the club from scratch will go a long way in helping Pune City in their efforts to build a sustainable brand identity and a successful club. The Italian also shed some light on what needs to be done in order to improve local standards. “For the development of the club we need to start with good organization. We also have to improve the quality and knowhow in Indian football,” he stated. Fiorentina CEO Sandro Mencucci has further opened the doors for Pune City to learn the trade in Italy. “We have talked about the possibility of the pre-season in Florence. We would like to share all our facilities, training camp and the expertise of our coaches with the players of Pune City,” he said.

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