Mumbai City (MCFC) takes on Jamshedpur FC (JFC) at the Mumbai Football Arena in match 13 of the Indian Super League (ISL) on Saturday.
Des Buckingham’s Mumbai City has played two matches this season - winning one and drawing another. After the club failed to qualify for the knockouts last season, Buckingham was given the luxury of bringing in a few reinforcements like Greg Stewart, Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Alberto Noguera.
The Islanders, who reached the Durand Cup 2022 final, are undefeated in this ISL season. However, coach Buckingham spoke about how important it is to “control the tempo of the game” before Mumbai’s last match against Odisha FC and is well aware that his team is yet to reach the best stage of understanding and fluidity, despite the win.
Despite having a star-studded attacking line-up with an almost-perfect blend of foreign and Indian players, Mumbai has been leaky at the back. It has already conceded three goals in two matches despite having an efficient centre-back duo in Mourtada Fall and Rostyn Griffiths.
“We have retained most of our players who understand how we want to play. It is about understanding each other and deciding how we want to approach the games. We always want to play an attacking brand of football but I also understand that to win the title this year, we need to be solid at the back,” said Buckingham at the pre-match press conference.
Stewart faces his former team for the first time after his exit and will be keen to impress. He already has a goal and two assists for Mumbai this season in the ISL.
Jamshedpur FC won the League Shield last season under the tutelage of Owen Coyle, but the Red Miners, under new head coach Adrian Boothroyd, have not started the new season well, losing 3-2 to Odisha FC.
It is still early days, but the loss of Stewart can be a concern for Jamshedpur in the season ahead.
Jamshedpur needs to be at its defensive best given Mumbai’s attacking dexterity, which lends a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of captain Peter Hartley and Eli Sabia.
“We know success isn’t a straight line, so there will be bumps and cracks on the road, but we have the mentality within the team to have a very successful season,” Hartley said in a media interaction ahead of the match.
Up front, Jamshedpur has able attackers in Boris Singh and Daniel Chima Chukwu, both of whom got on the scoresheet in the loss against Odisha FC.
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