ISL: Mumbai City hosts NEUFC as top-four race heats up

Mumbai, placed fifth on the Indian Super League table, can leapfrog Odisha FC in the fourth position and go two points clear with a victory over NEUFC.

Mumbai City players in training ahead of the visit from NEUFC.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

The onus will be on Mumbai City FC to climb among the top four when it comes up against NorthEast United FC at the Mumbai Football Arena here on Friday evening.

Mumbai, placed fifth on the Indian Super League table, can leapfrog Odisha FC in the fourth position and go two points clear with a victory over the visitor.

After a disappointing 1-1 draw against Hyderabad FC in its previous outing, Jorge Costa’s men need to bounce back.

Modou Sougou is expected to be fit to start the game which will boost Mumbai’s attack. However, it will miss the suspended Pratik Chowdhary, who has amassed four yellow cards. The 19-year-old Hmingthan Mawia is expected to partner Mato Grgic at the back as Mumbai will look for its third win on home soil this season.

Rowllin Borges has been in impressive form alongside Sourav Das as their understanding has only grown in the last couple of games.

Mumbai struggled to create chances against Hyderabad and Costa is expected to change his tactics in order to ensure his forwards have more to work with.

“I am sure my players will give their best.  I can change one or two players in the team but not my system. I don't know what will happen or the end of the season but I know we are trying and working hard. All points lost at this stage are difficult to recover, but we will give our best to win the game,” said Costa.

The visitor has several issues to address. It has scored the least number of goals this season – nine. Add to that, the Highlanders have only scored three times away from home. In their last three away games, they haven’t scored a single goal either. They have lacked creativity in midfield, often struggling to carve open the opposition in most games.

Injuries haven’t helped their cause as star signing Asamoah Gyan spent considerable time on the sidelines before being ruled out for the season. Federico Gallego hasn’t yet hit his peak form since his return from the injury he suffered in the play-offs last season.

New signing Andy Keogh and Simon Lundevall are yet to acclimatise and gel with the rest of the team-mates. Placed ninth on the table, Robert Jarni’s side cannot afford to drop any points if it is to harbour the slimmest hopes of making it into the play-offs.

In defence, however, Mislav Komorski and goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury have impressed and have largely been responsible for restricting the number of goals they have conceded.

NorthEast is on a run of eight matches without a win and badly needs a spark.

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