Belief and confidence will be key against NorthEast, says Brown

An upbeat FC Pune City side will face off against NorthEast United FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Wednesday. The Stallions are unbeaten in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 since late-November and will head into the fixture on the back of an impressive 4-1 win over Jamshedpur FC. The Stallions are still in with an outside chance of qualifying for the play-offs, but with nine-points separating them from fourth-placed Mumbai City FC, they will need a lot of luck to squeeze into the final four.

During his pre-match briefing, Pune head coach Phil Brown shared his impressions on the Hero ISL and said, "I’m very impressed. I’ve been watching the games on TV and have been involved in three games so far. It’s getting better as I’m getting used to it. The build-up to the games, the technical abilities of the teams, the technical awareness of the coaches - everything is impressive."

Brown then credited his players for the side's recent success and stated, "I think our biggest test was Jamshedpur FC in the last game. The reason behind that was the technicality of their team. But I’ve been impressed with the group I’ve been working with. The players have taken to my methods and the way we have decided to play very well. As a coach, you’re delighted with that."

Asked about Pune's seemingly 'magical' transformation since he took over, the Englishman responded, "I think the magic wand in football is belief. The majority of the players have got the ability. The majority of the teams have got the ability. But pulling that together and getting them to believe comes from winning. I try to make my coaching sessions very enjoyable. These things are not magic. These are just simple formulas."

Looking ahead to the NorthEast tie, the 59-year-old said, "It won’t be easy. We know their strengths. We hopefully know their weaknesses as well. But they might be approaching the game in a different manner because of the way we are winning games. We’ve applied ourselves quite well in the last five or six games and given ourselves a chance. If we bring that belief and confidence to the party, then we could maybe win the game again."

"I respect the opposition. But I focus on my players. When you are in a good situation, you try and get the best out of your team. Our good moment is scratched (ruined a little) because of the Marcelo Pereira's suspension. So, maybe our methods tomorrow night might be slightly different. We will need to defend better," he added.

Brown, however, had some good news on the injury front and confirmed that defender Matt Mills was back to full fitness after missing the last few matches due to an injury. "No (we have no injuries). Again, it is a good sign for me. I have every player on the training ground at this moment in time including Mat Mills. He’s available for selection tomorrow night. So, the only problem I have is the Marcelo Pereira suspension," he revealed.

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