Miguel Angel Portugal coy about Marcelinho ahead of Maha derby

Miguel Angel Portugal coy about Marcelinho ahead of Maha derby

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FC Pune City boss Miguel Angel Portugal chose to keep his cards close to his chest when asked if star forwad Marcelinho was playing in the Maha derby. Both Mumbai and Pune have been winless so far in ISL’s fifth season with the former playing one extra game before the ten-day break.

The Mumbai-Pune rivalry is one of the only three “derbies” ISL could boast of as both the teams are approaching the so-called Maha Derby on Friday at the back of disappointing form in their respective campaigns. While Mumbai has drawn one and lost another in their opening two games, Pune are the only side to have played just once, in which they managed a draw.

Pune had needed a late 84th-minute equalizer from Diego Carlos against Delhi Dynamos in their first match to earn a draw with the huge concern being the absence of Marcelinho. Ahead of the second match when Portugal was asked about their star forward, who managed eight goals and seven assists last season, the former Delhi boss decided to keep his opponents guessing.

“I don't know. We had fifteen whole days to prepare for this match, but I'll only have two days before we play Bengaluru. I will have to select my team carefully, depending on what happens against Mumbai," said Portugal in the pre-match press conference, reported Firstpost.

Pune had five more days to prepare for the derby and the coach looked well versed in Mumbai City’s strengths, hinting that he had done his homework well. Despite failing to win a game so far, Portugal hailed Mumbai as a dangerous side, especially their attack.

“They have a good squad, which is based around three very important players. In defence, they have Lucian Goian, who can play out from the back. He's versatile, he can go short or long. They also have the likes of Paulo Machado and Rafael Bastos, who transition from defence to attack rapidly," he added.

Mumbai City FC, like many other ISL sides, have been in a transitional phase with a new manager and a host of new players trying to fit in. However, when coach Jorge Costa was asked about the team’s crisis, he refused to use it as an excuse.

“The results are not what we wanted, especially in the first game, which was a home match. I have confidence in this team. We're working hard and we're building a new team, but we're not going to use that as an excuse,” he said.

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