The Durand Cup 2023 will have its final semifinalist when Indian Super League winner Mohun Bagan Super Giant takes on the ISL League Winner’s Shield winner Mumbai City FC at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Sunday.
The Juan Ferrando’s MBSG had to undergo some anxious moments before confirming its place in the last eight as one of the best second-placed sides.
“Mumbai City FC are preparing for the AFC Champions League and we are preparing for the AFC Cup. So for both teams, this match is going to be a good practice match,” Ferrando said.
The Spaniard, with two AFC Cup games on his mind, appeared outwitted by Emami East Bengal’s Carles Cuadrat in the Kolkata derby.
But, wins against the Bangladesh Army and Punjab FC in the tournament and then in the AFC Cup’s preliminary games, have made the derby blip a thing of the past.
“Mumbai is a difficult opponent. They have some good wingers along with (Lallianzuala) Chhangte, Bipin, Mehtab (Singh) and Akash (Mishra). They also have good foreigners like Greg Stewart,” Ferrando told reporters before the match.
“But even our team has also played two consecutive matches and is ready and tomorrow it’s going to be a good game. We will try our best to win. But before playing I would like to mention that Mumbai has got a break of ten days and we have got only three days before this match.”
Mumbai City FC, on the other hand, has looked the most settled unit in the tournament, with 12 goals and two clean sheets in three games. The team was drawn with Al Hilal in the AFC Champions League, which has Neymar, Kalidou Koulibaly and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic as some of its stars.
But its coach, Des Buckingham, said that he was focussing on the most immediate match, the Durand Cup clash against the Mariners.
“We will think about that, closer to that tournament. For now, we have a Durand Cup match,” he told reporters.
“In the three games we’ve had in the Durand Cup, we’ve tried quite a few different things. We had a chance to look at different players and different ways of doing certain things. It’s been a good start, but that’s all it’s been.
“So I’m very happy with where we are at the moment and I’m very much looking forward to what’s to come,” he added.
The quarterfinal between MBSG and MCFC is scheduled for a 6 pm kick-off at the Vidya Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium) in Kolkata, West Bengal. The winner of this clash will play FC Goa, which beat Chennaiyin FC 4-1 on Saturday.
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