Mumbai out to dent NorthEast’s perfect start

Mumbai City FC will play its first home tie at the Mumbai Football Arena on Friday, facing in-form rival in NorthEast United FC riding on confidence of two wins from its two home games so far.

Diego Forlan will have a larger workload as Sony Norde (national duty), Sunil Chhetri (AFC Cup), Jackichand Singh and Gaston Sangoy (injury) are all unavailble for the tie.   -  ISL-SPORTZPICS

Alexandre Guimaraes is upbeat about the understanding struck up with marquee player Diego Forlan. Mumbai City FC head coach has also given his captain the freedom to assert himself. “He has my permission to work on the players. He is talking not only with foreigners but also Indians,” said the Costa Rican about the striker from Uruguay.

MCFC will play its first home tie at the Mumbai Football Arena on Friday, facing in-form rival in NorthEast United FC riding on confidence of two wins from its two home games so far. Despite being marked and denied possession for long stretches, Forlan set up Mumbai City’s match-winner against FC Pune City in the opener away in Pune.

Guimares spoke about the Forlan effect on his squad and the realisation about taking the load off his prized striker. “Forlan’s leadership is growing with each day. We are also working on solutions so that pressure is taken off him, as far as offence is concerned,” said the coach, adding: “Players of his level and quality want to play in every match. It helps the team.”

The strikeforce is short on big names. Sony Norde is away on national duty for Haiti, Sunil Chhetri is playing in the AFC Cup, Jackichand Singh is recovering from injury and injured Gaston Sangoy, the highest scorer in pre-season, is ruled out for Friday’s tie. “NorthEast deserved to win the two games. We need to play better and work harder,” said Guimaraes.

NEUFC head coach Nelo Vingada, riding on wins against Kerala Blasters and FC Goa, said: “Playing against Mumbai City will be our third game in six days. Some of my players are more tired than others. This is football, I am not making an excuse,” said the Portuguese, with coaching experience in Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Egypt and Iran prior to the ISL.

He rated the display against FC Goa highly. “Believe me, the contest (NorthEast vs FC Goa) was as good a game as in any league in Asia. There was intensity, both sides created scoring opportunities and there was a lot of emotion. We were lucky to score twice and our goalkeeper (Subrata Paul) played well,” said Vingada, expecting a tough time against MCFC away and at a new venue for both sides.