ISL 2020-21 Preview: Mumbai City look to deny SC East Bengal first win of the season

Mumbai City FC has three points from its first two matches, while newcomer SC East Bengal comes into this fixture on the back of the Kolkata derby loss.

SCEB Head Coach Robbie Fowler (right) is hopeful of a strong comeback by his team as it takes on Sergio Lobera-managed (left) Mumbai City FC in match 13.   -  ISL

Pre-tournament favourite Mumbai City FC was struggling to find the back of the net in its first two games of the 2020-21 Indian Super League. It couldn't muster a single shot on target after 150 minutes on the field against NorthEast United FC and FC Goa and needed second-half stoppage-time in the match versus the latter to finally score a goal in the competition.

After defeating 10-man Goa with a penalty from English striker Adam Le Fondre, the Islanders will next be up against Kolkata giant SC East Bengal, which is yet to open its account this edition, at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Tuesday.

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Manager Sergio Lobera was known for his attacking style of play during his time with the Gaurs from 2017 to 2020. However, his tenure at MCFC has begun on a dull note. Attackers Bartholomew Ogbeche, ISL's fifth-highest goal scorer of all time, Le Fondre and creative midfielder Hugo Boumous, the 2019-20 edition's MVP, are yet to hit their stride.

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"The most important thing as a coach is to implement my style. It is non-negotiable. We lost possession a lot in the previous match. It is important to keep the ball. Losing the ball makes the game very open. That is not an ideal situation for us," Lobera told.

"Our plan is the same for East Bengal. We do not want to make the mistakes that we made in the last two games. I want possession on the ball. I want to create chances. It will not be easy to find spaces. We have to be good at transitions. It will not be an easy game tomorrow," he added.

Meanwhile, with the 2020-21 season being East Bengal's inaugural ISL, the side experienced a 0-2 loss at the hands of derby rival ATK Mohun Bagan in its debut outing on Friday, despite dominating possession.

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SCEB head coach Robbie Fowler assured that his team's performances were only going to get better in the future. The Red and Gold Brigade was the last team to reach Goa ahead of the tournament, having hardly any time to train with the full squad and Fowler insisted that every 90 minutes they spend on the pitch together is a bonus.

The performances of skipper Daniel Fox, other foreign recruits Matti Steinmann, Anthony Pilkington and Indian left-back Narayan Das against ATKMB would have been encouraging for the Gaffer. Fox called for his team to be more effective upfront ahead of the Mumbai encounter.

"We created chances throughout the game (against Mohun Bagan) even if it was one or two-nil, it didn't matter. I felt if we had scored the first goal, it would have been a different game. As soon as they scored, they shut shop and tried to play on the counter-attack," the East Bengal captain said.

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"I think we played particularly well considering we were together for only two or three weeks. We can be more organised, maybe a bit more effective after going forward. The Gaffer and the coaching staff are still implementing their style of play and methods into practice. It's going to be a tough game (versus MCFC). It can't come quick enough because we all want to correct the wrongs from Friday night," he claimed.

The return of Ahmed Jahouh, who was suspended for one game after receiving a red card during the NEUFC clash, will be a boost for Mumbai City. On the other hand, the outfit's experienced full-back Mandar Rao Dessai is all set to become the first player to complete 100 appearances in ISL history on Tuesday.

SCEB will be trying its best to ruin Mandar's milestone day and get three points on the board. But if that is to happen, the likes of Balwant Singh and Jacques Maghoma must be more clinical in the final third.

- THE SQUADS -

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

SC East Bengal: Debjit Majumder, Rafique Ali, Mirshad Michu, Sankar Roy, Daniel Fox (Scotland), Gurtej Singh, Narayan Das, Scott Neville (Australia), Abhishek Ambekar, Rana Gharami, Samad Mallick, Rohen Singh, Anil Chawan, Lalramchullova, Matti Steinmann (Germany), Eugeneson Lyngdoh, Bikash Jairu, Jacques Maghoma (DR Congo), Sehnaj Singh, Surchandra Singh, Loken Meitei, Haobam Singh, Milan Singh, Wahengbam Luwang, Mohammed Irshad, Mohammed Rafique, Yumnam Singh, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Aaron Amadi-Holloway (Wales), Balwant Singh, C. K. Vineeth, Anthony Pilkington (Ireland), Girik Khosla, Harmanpreet Singh.

 

Match Facts:

Time: 7:30pm

Venue: GMC Stadium,Bambolim

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