ISL 2020-21 preview: Mumbai City FC aims to close gap at top in Jamshedpur FC clash

Mumbai gears up to face seventh-placed Jamshedpur at Tilak Maidan in Vasco on Saturday to regain top spot ahead of its final league match against current leader, ATKMB.

Mumbai coach Lobera, whose outfit is coming off a 2-4 loss to Bengaluru FC, feels his players can overcome the upcoming challenge from a strong Jamshedpur squad.   -  Sportzpics

Not so long ago, Mumbai City FC had a six-point lead over ATK Mohun Bagan in the 2020-21 Indian Super League standings after 13 games. Fast forward four matches, the Islanders have fallen five points behind the Mariners, with the league stage reaching its climax.

In such a must-win scenario, Sergio Lobera's men gear up to face seventh-placed Jamshedpur FC at Tilak Maidan in Vasco on Saturday. Meanwhile, Owen Coyle-managed Red Miners still have the rarest of mathematical possibilities to make the playoffs.

Jamshedpur FC vs Mumbai City FC: LIVE BLOG

MCFC's final league outing against ATKMB could be a virtual title decider, with the victorious side claiming the ISL League Winners' Shield and an AFC Champions League spot for next year. In JFC's case, two big wins and a few defeats for teams above it on the table could propel it into the top-four.

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Mumbai coach Lobera, whose outfit is coming off a 2-4 loss to Bengaluru FC, feels his players can overcome the upcoming challenge from a strong Jamshedpur squad.

"JFC are a strong team. It's hard to find space in their half. When you need to win, you need to work as a team. They're not about one player (Nerijus Valskis), and our focus is to play against a good team.

"Bengaluru and Jamshedpur are different teams. But the important thing is our actions on the field. We need to be loyal to our style and know that we're strong while sticking to it. During the game, bad situations can happen, but we need to be ready to react to those," the 44-year-old Spaniard told during the pre-match press conference.

MCFC had conceded only four goals in its opening 12 encounters but has now let in seven in its last two, including a 3-3 draw against FC Goa. Lobera stressed the importance of maintaining a balance between attack and defence.

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"We need to work harder. We conceded four goals (vs BFC) which is a lot but had many chances to score. If we had converted those, we would've won. We need to work on this balance. It's impossible to win all games in a season. We've been unbeaten for 15 in a row. Maybe, it's a normal situation now. The results can change all the time, and we need to be careful with small details," he added.

On the other hand, his counterpart Coyle wants Jamshedpur to play the same way it did against ATK Mohun Bagan in its previous clash, despite a 0-1 defeat.

"We should approach this game the way we did against ATKMB. The lads were outstanding with their work rate and efforts, and we were causing them problems. In the second half, we were very comfortable, and their goalkeeper (Arindam Bhattacharja) came up with the save of the season, with not a lot of time left. Then, we were down with a sucker punch from Roy Krishna," the 54-year-old Scotsman claimed.

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Coyle also said that he wants his club to fight hard for two more victories and reach 27 points to keep its outside chance of achieving playoff status alive.

"The players have to apply themselves and make sure that we finish our season strong. We need to get those six points and get to 27 in total, and then we will be fighting with three teams. There's a lot to play for, but we have to make sure we are professional, focussed and concentrated against a good side,” he concluded.

Mumbai City will be without the suspended French playmaker Hugo Boumous for its next match, while JFC has no injury or suspension concerns.

- THE SQUADS -

Jamshedpur FC: T. P. Rehenesh, Pawan Kumar, Niraj Kumar, Vishal Yadav, Stephen Eze (Nigeria), Narender Gehlot, Boris Singh Thangjam, Joyner Lourenco, Peter Hartley (England), Laldinliana Renthlei, Karan Amin, Sandip Mandi, Ricky Lallawmawma, Aitor Monroy (Spain), Seiminlen Doungel, Nicholas Fitzgerald (Australia), Issac Vanmalsawma, Farukh Choudhary, Alex Lima (Brazil), Mobashir Rahman, Jitendra Singh, Nerijus Valskis (Lithuania), Bhupender Singh, Aniket Jadhav, David Grande (Spain), William Lalnunfela.

Mumbai City FC: Amrinder Singh, Nishit Shetty, Vikram Lahkbir Singh, Phurba Lachenpa, Mourtada Fall (Senegal), Mandar Rao Dessai, Tondonba Singh, Amey Ranawade, Mohammad Rakip, Mehtab Singh, Valpuia, Ahmed Jahouh (Morocco), Rowllin Borges, Bidyananda Singh, Cy Goddard (Japan), Raynier Fernandes, Hugo Boumous (France), Jackichand Singh, Hernan Santana (Spain), Asif Khan, Bipin Singh, Vikram Pratap Singh, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Bartholomew Ogbeche (Nigeria), Pranjal Bhumij, Adam Le Fondre (England).

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