ISL 2018-19: Emiliano Alfaro lauds Marcelinho, Indian youngsters’ impact at Pune City

Mumbai: Having starred alongside prolific goal scorers like Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, Emiliano Alfaro knows more than a thing or two when it comes to finding the back of the net.

FC Pune City made a big gamble last season when they recalled Alfaro to India despite a dismal debut with NorthEast United earlier but their faith was soon repaid by the Uruguayan hitman, who lead the goalscoring charts for the Stallions.  

Forming a lethal partnership with 2016-17 Golden Boot winner Marcelinho propelled Ranko Popovic’s men to their first-ever semis — the duo accounting for 17 goals and 9 assists — more than half the team’s share. While acknowledging the guile and trickery of his Brazilian playmaker, Alfaro called for a team effort ahead of the fifth edition.

“When I am on the field with Marcelinho, we always like to keep looking out for each other. We understand the movements and search for the places to exploit. But only two players can do nothing and we need a collective effort from everyone,” he spoke to Deccan Chronicle during the ISL media day on Monday.

The former Lazio striker will face stiff competition for the number nine role after the additions of Robin Singh and Iain Hume and believes it is a good headache for the management.

“A healthy competition is good for the team and it also keeps the players on their toes. But after playing at the professional level for 15 years, playing as a team is the most important thing that I have learnt,” the veteran forward reinstated.

With former Delhi Dynamos coach Miguel Angel Portugal the latest to occupy the Pune City managerial hot seat, the South American said that the squad was quickly adapting to his possession-based football.

“Portugal has a different philosophy, a different style of play compared to Popovic. But we are players and are habituated to these kinds of changes. We have to adapt and we are trying to do that as soon as possible,” he added.

Alfaro also seemed impressed with their development of youngsters such as Vishal Kaith, Ashique Kuruniyan, Sarthak Golui, Rohit Kumar and a few others.

“The Indian players have grown immensely over the past one year. Many of them were young talents in the past and now everyone knows them. So there is a big difference. For someone who never played at the top level, you don’t know how they will perform. But they have improved, have much more confidence and have the hunger to push harder. Senior players like me always like to share our experiences,” he concluded.  

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