I-League: Mumbai FC seeks redemption through its imports

The home side will bank on its foreign imports to lend wing to its ambitions of a top-three finish after struggling to make an impact fielding only Indians early on.

After six defeats in eight games, Mumbai FC coach Santosh Kashyap will hope to turn the tide.   -  Prashant Nakwe

Mumbai FC will expect its Brazilian strikers Alex Silva, Anderson Silva and Afghan defender Djelaluddin Sharityar to trouble Mohun Bagan as the sides clash in their I-League match at the Cooperage ground on Wednesday.

The home side will now bank on its imports to lend wing to its ambitions of a top-three finish after struggling to make an impact fielding only Indians early on.

Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen said his side, after five wins in seven matches, was confident but wary. “Mumbai FC have strengthened the side by signing a few players. We have to go for a win,” he said.

Bagan is the only side, apart from leader East Bengal, to have lost only a single game in this season’s I-League. Apart from the drawn Kolkata derby, Bagan was held by newcomer DSK Shivajians.

“The new teams will get better. DSK is a good team, and there are enough matches remaining for these sides (to prove themselves),” he said.

Defenders Anas Edathodika and Eduardo have recovered from injury for the MFC tie while Sony Norde’s match fitness is to be assessed.

“I will never force a player on the field (if not fit),” said Sen about his Haitian striker.

Defenders Raju Gaikwad, Kingsuk Debnath remain on the injured list.

Replying to a query about the reasons for injuries to key personnel, Sen said: “We are playing four matches within nine days. Nowhere in the world do teams play so much. Players need 48 hours to recover, and it is not happening. It is difficult but you have to manage.”

The Bagan coach spoke about the pressure on the side to win every match.

“Players do not get enough time to recover and injuries to first-team players are frequent,” he said. “Rotation is happening, and there are options but you also lose a bit of strength with change.

“Fans expect us to win every game; it is difficult against new rivals you don’t know much about.”

After six defeats in eight games, Mumbai FC coach Santosh Kashyap will hope to turn the tide.

“We have 10 matches to launch a comeback starting with the tie against Bagan. Teams in the I-League are very close, any team can beat any other side,” he said.

“We could have packed the defence in away games and played safe. But that is not my way. The defeats have made me a better coach.”

Kashyap thanked fans for their support. “We will come back and prove to be a dangerous opponent,” he said.

Hitesh Sharma, the new face in Mumbai FC midfield, reflected the mood in the home team.

“Every match is a learning experience. Having been given a chance to play the I-League, I look ahead to every game; the reputation of the rivals don’t matter,” he said.

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