Mumbai City FC and ATK Mohun Bagan will eye the top spot when they square off at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim in Sunday’s second game, also the last league fixture of this season. The Islanders took advantage of the Mariners’ 2-2 draw against Hyderabad FC and registered a commanding 6-1 win over Odisha FC in their last match to make Sunday’s tie a crucial one.
Mumbai needs a win to claim the League Winners Shield and qualify for the AFC Champions League group stage. Currently, second, a victory will take Mumbai City FC level with ATK Mohun Bagan but it will move ahead of the latter based on the accumulation of more points against it in the league stage. The Islanders have already beaten the Mariners once this season.
Although Mumbai City FC secured a 6-1 win over bottom-placed Odisha FC, it still has kinks in its backline which can be exploited by ATK Mohun Bagan. Odisha FC scored the first goal of that match before the Islanders ran amok to net six goals and change the complexion of the game. The Islanders have not kept a clean sheet in their last seven matches and will need to be careful against the likes of Roy Krishna and David Williams.
“It is a game that everyone wants to play. It is going to be an amazing game. We will play to make our dreams come true. We have to be careful, having reached this position. We need to enjoy it because we don't get a lot of such games in our careers. We are very excited. We are going to play against a very good team who have done a good job. We need to give our 100% if we want to win the game,” said Mumbai City FC’s head coach Sergio Lobera ahead of the game.
ATK Mohun Bagan, on the other hand, will be disappointed with its result against Hyderabad FC earlier this week as a win would have sealed the top spot for it. It has been solid in the defensive third with just four goals conceded during its run of five wins before the draw.
However, a positive going into this game will be the improvement of its attacking unit. Led by Roy Krishna, who has 14 goals this season, the side has scored 15 goals during its unbeaten run of six games (5 wins and a draw). During this run that propelled it to the top of the league, the likes of Marcelo Pereira, Williams and Manvir Singh have also chipped in with crucial goals.
“We have to be prepared for winning and not for drawing [which will be enough for them to seal the top spot]. This is a different match, it is like a final, we have to use the experience [of losing in the reverse fixture] for winning. We respect the opponents because we feel that Mumbai City FC have quality players,” said the ATK Mohun Bagan’s head coach Antonio Lopez Habas.