New Delhi: The latest signing of Kostas Katsouranis, a crash course at well-known Italian Serie 'A' club Fiorentina and, of course, the presence of David Trezeguet, give FC Pune City reasons to believe they can go the distance in the inaugural edition of Indian Super League.
Greece's 2014 World Cup captain Katsouranis yesterday joined the franchise, firming up its defence and midfield. Katsouranis is the only ISL import to have played in this year's FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
FC Pune City CEO Gaurav Modwel said: "We definitely want to win and have aspiration to win. The coaching staff, players the whole team is working really hard. We want to win it for our fans as well."
He added, "Pune was not traditionally known as a footballing bastion... But suddenly we are witnessing a spurt."
The franchise has a tie-up with the former Serie A champions, who are providing them technical expertise, and had spent a week in Florence last month.
"That (the stint in Florence) was the first time when the Italian and Indian players came together. Since 2004 they (Juventus) have really turned things around. We discuss everything with them. They helped us get the initial players, coach and coaching staff. I am on the phone with them twice a day."
As talks turned to former Juventus star Trezeguet, who was part of France's 1998 World Cup winning squad and who is also credited with scoring the golden goal in France's Euro triumph in 2000, the franchise's top boss said the Frenchman is a natural leader for the team.
"He is a natural leader of the team as of now. He leads from the front and has already scored five goals (in friendly matches)," Modwel said, adding, "The balance of the team takes a little bit of time, we don't play our best XI in friendly and play them in parts. The style of play is very important and that is settling in now. And because of our style of play, we needed a player like him (Katsouranis). Indian players Mehrajuddin (Wadoo) and Manish (Maithani) are playing well."
Asked what prompted the franchise to have Katsouranis in
its ranks, Modwel said, "We were waiting for a playmaker midfielder, were looking at many people and evaluated many people.
"He has been voted 2013's best player in Greece. It is a big signing for us and he will hold the midfield. He is a big name in that part of the world and was instrumental in Greece's Euro win in 2004."
The former Benfica player recently spearheaded the Greek defence at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Katsourinis made his international debut for Greece in 2003 against Sweden and scored his first goal against Kazakhstan in a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier. He was instrumental in Greece's 2004 UEFA Euro win.
Talking about the importance of ISL in the country, he said, "After ISL, football in India will never be the same again, there is clearly an upswing in interest. I give a lot a credit to organisers for putting together something like this in such a short time."