I-League: Mumbai hosts Minerva amidst rumours of player unrest

After two early wins at the Cooperage ground, the team fell off-pace, with captain Steven Dias sitting out two big matches amidst talks of unrest within the team.

Mumbai coach Santosh Kashyap with Densil Theobald at the pre-match press conference on Saturday.   -  I-League Media

Currently placed eighth among 10 teams on the table, Mumbai FC will be hoping to do justice to the talent and experience in its ranks, when it hosts I-League newcomer Minerva Punjab FC on Sunday. The team has proved its credentials with well-fought draws against Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC at home this season, but has struggled against less-fancied squads.

After two early wins at the Cooperage ground, the team fell off-pace, with captain Steven Dias sitting out two big matches amidst talks of unrest within the team.

Santosh Kashyap has quality in his side in the likes of Brazilian Brazilian midfielder Alex Silva and India U-22 striker Farukh Choudhary.

Minerva had won the last time both teams clashed and the Mumbai team coach is determined to avenge the defeat. “We were going through a bad phase when we played Minerva away, but the team has settled down now,” he said.

Captain Densil Theobald echoed his coaches view. “We are playing well now as a team. A couple of good results will put us back on tracks.” Goalkeeper Laxmikant Kattimani has been brilliant, the defence competent, though subdued.

Minerva is familiar with the Cooperage turf conditions, from I-League Second Division appearances earlier. The side from Punjab has shown it capability after promotion to the next level, winning 5-4 against Churchill Brothers FC Goa and holding DSK Shivajians in two previous ties before making the trip to Mumbai.

Minerva coach Surinder Singh said: “Mumbai FC are a good team and high on confidence after their draws against Bagan and Bengaluru. It should be an interesting match.”

The visiting side defence has let in 18 goals, against nine scored so far in 10 matches. MFC’s thrust on attack, with Silva as playmaker, may pay off against a rival placed one position ahead in seventh spot.