Hyderabad FC and Mumbai City FC will lock horns in a tale of two fates in one of the last league games of the Indian Super League (ISL) this season.
While the former will look to increase its chances for the League Winners’ Shield, the latter will seek a lifeline in its bid to defend the title in its last fixture.
Manolo Marquez’s side has been in brilliant form in its run-up to the semifinal, becoming the first team to break into the semis, with the best performance by the Nizams in its brief history so far.
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However, a coronavirus outbreak in the camp has stifled its hopes for a League Winners’ Shield win, after the defeat to current table-topper Jamshedpur FC in its last match.
Hyderabad FC sits third on the table with 35 points from 19 matches and a win here would propel it to the top. That said, the shield will only be assured if ATK Mohun Bagan and Jamshedpur FC drop points in its remaining matches.
Mumbai City FC, on the other hand, suffered a disappointing loss to Kerala Blasters, which pushed it out of the top four and will look forward to two things - a win against Hyderabad FC and hope Blasters lose its ;ast game.
Des Buckingham’s boys have struggled with their key striker Igor Angulo missing his shooting boots and will hope the Spaniard finds the net before it is too late.
Diego Mauricio, who has three goals in the last four matches will not be starting, as confirmed by Des ahead of the match.
“Diego is just not match fit to play the 90 minutes," Des told the press, “there would be nothing more I would really enjoy than to pair Diego with Igor, but we have been trying to increase his game time over a couple of weeks.”
The other lynchpin in its attack and the architect of set pieces, Ahmed Jahouh will likely be available for selection.
“We will see how he comes through today’s training… He’s got a small sprain on the inside of his knee. So, if he comes through today’s session okay and has no reaction on his knee, he’s in contention to be part of the squad tomorrow,” Des added.
MCFC will also miss the services of defender Rahul Bheke and winger Lallianzuala Chhangte, both of whom are suspended, following their yellow cards in the previous match.
Mumbai City and Hyderabad have locked horns five times in the past and the statistics lean slightly in favour of the defending champion, with MCFC winning twice and drawing as many.
This season though, HFC has looked the side in the driving seat, beating MCFC 3-1 on November 27 – HFC’s first-ever victory against Mumbai City.
When it faces the defending champion this time, it will have a chance to better its winning streak, completing a league double over Mumbai, if it can walk away with three points.
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The match between Hyderabad FC and Mumbai City FC is scheduled for a 9:30 pm (IST) kick-off at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Fatorda, Goa.