ISL: FC Pune City appoint Ranko Popovic as head coach
Indian Super League (ISL) club FC Pune City on Monday announced Serbian Ranko Popovic as their new head coach, completing the full complement of coaches for the 2017-18 season. The ISL will feature 10 teams for the first time this year.
This will be Popovic's managerial debut in the ISL, where he takes over from Spaniard Antonio Habas, who parted ways with the club earlier this month. With the departure of Habas, it meant that none of the managers from the ISL's first season in 2014 would be returning in 2017, after FC Goa's Zico and Chennaiyin FC's Marco Materazzi were replaced by Spain's Sergio Lobera and John Gregory of England, respectively.
Popovic, 50, began his managerial career in 2001 in Austria before moving to Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the J-League in 2006. After a stint in Serbia, Popovic would return to Japan for a longer stay, one that included a stint with Cerezo Osaka around the same time the club signed Uruguayan star and former World Cup Golden Ball and Golden Boot winner Diego Forlan.
In 2014-15, he went to Spain to coach Real Zaragoza, where he led the team in Spain's second division to the finals of the La Liga play-offs. A season later, he joined Thai Premier League Champions Buriram United FC where he won the Thai League Cup and Mekong Club Championship.
"I am delighted to be joining FC Pune City. The people at the club, their vision and their values together with the opportunity to develop and build this team to its full potential made this an offer that was difficult to turn down. I can't wait to get started," said Popovic, whose team begin their campaign at home on November 22 against Delhi Dynamos.