November 17, 2019
FC Pune City’s newly-acquired midfielder Shankar Sampingraj is hoping for a change in fortune as far as his Indian Super League career is concerned. The former ATK pivot had endured a horrendous season in Kolkata amid backlash from the football-loving crowd in the city.Things went awry for the defending champions ATK as they finished second from the bottom of the table and were sandwiched between the tussle of ISL and the two beloved football clubs of Kolkata – Mohun Bagan and East Bengal – who wanted a spot in the cash-rich league.The negative attitude of ISL management towards the two Kolkata giants inclusion meant ATK had to deal with the wrath of the fans, leading to empty stands at the Salt Lake Stadium.”It was a difficult phase for me as a player and all my teammates too. We failed to play like defending champions and too many injury issues also hampered the team’s rhythm. We hoped for some positives but nothing worked,” Shankar told Mail Today from Pune.”At FC Pune City, I am hoping, I will be able to give my career a fresh start and play without any external pressure.”The Kannadiga footballer mostly played the role of a fringe player in his outings with former clubs Bengaluru FC and Kerala Blasters, and has struggled for game time.With Pune, Shankar will be looking for a pivotal role under new coach Miguel Angel Portugal, who is known for his Spanish-style possession football and has a knack for showing faith in young footballers. The coach failed miserably at his last venture with Capital club Delhi Dynamos but was praised for the way he nurtured young footballers such as Lallianzuala Chhangte and Vinit Rai, who are active members of the Indian under-23 sides now.advertisement”I am aware that coach (Miguel Angel) prefers to keep the ball on his feet and it is something l prefer too. Although, this is the first time I am playing under a Spanish coach, as I played mostly under English coaches earlier, but I know I will be able to adapt quickly,” he said.