ISL: New-look Mumbai looking to kick on at home

Mumbai City, sans its crowd favourites, will play host to an attacking FC Goa side at the Mumbai Football Arena on Saturday in the Indian Super League.

Bengaluru FC captain Sunil Chhetri (in Blue) scoring a goal against Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 football championship at Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar


A new-look Mumbai City FC will be at its base, Mumbai Football Arena, for the first home match of the Indian Super League (ISL) - 2017 when it takes on FC Goa on Saturday. Its coach Alexandre Guimaraes, who is reprising his role from last season, promises a more complete side after overcoming its first game blues.

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“Every team has troubles in the beginning, now our squad is much more complete compared to the first match (lost to Bengaluru FC away by two goals),” said the Costa Rican, adding: “You need to make adjustments in the beginning. It took us the first half to get the timing right in duels for the ball. The work done in practice makes me optimistic.”

MCFC will miss Brazilian midfielder Leonardo Costa due to an injury he suffered against BFC. The home fans will see a group of new faces with crowd favourites like Diego Forlan, Sunil Chhetri and Sony Norde missing out this time around. The coach expects fans to continue their support. “We cannot think about what we dream, we have to move on and choose players with different characteristics. Fans have to know that this is another group of players, that is the reality.”

The fourth season has alternated between goalless draws and goal-scoring thrillers. The 58-year-old explained: “First of all, we coaches have tried to understand what is going on in this edition of ISL. We are trying to get the right mix of players. Maybe all of us (coaches) are trying to get the magic word called ‘balance’ right in the three to four initial games.”

FC Goa finished on the right side of a five-goal thriller on Sunday, by beating Chennaiyin FC 3-2 away from home.

Goa’s coach Sergio Lobera Rodriguez confirmed that his team will continue playing an attacking game, despite two late goals let in against Chennaiyin which brought its defensive holes into focus.

“When a team has to perform, they have to stick to their own ideology. If they try and do something different, the performance will not be as good. When we come to play, we will stick to the same idea and philosophy the team is working on for three months.” Spaniards Ferran Corominas and Manuel Lanzarote and Indian forward Mandar Rao Desai were on target against Chennaiyin.

Asked about fans' expectations from his squad, Rodriguez said, “The primary idea is to make sure fans are entertained, not just our fans but all ISL fans. We want to bring people to the stadiums via excitement in the matches we play.”

Sergio also pointed out that FC Goa vs Mumbai City FC can be looked at as a Spain vs Brazil contest. “We have six Spaniards in our team and the side facing us (MCFC) has five Brazilians.”

Last season, Mumbai City topped the ISL league table while FC Goa (under Brazilian coach Zico) slipped to the bottom place.

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