Chief coach Jorge Costa, retained for the second season in a row by Mumbai City FC, considers the squad tuned up and ready to take the plunge in the new Indian Super League season.
The Blues face Kerala Blasters FC in the opening game away in Kochi. “We are anxious to start playing, the team is ready to play tomorrow,” stated the Portuguese ex-international, under whose guidance MCFC qualified for the playoff last season.
Aware of the conditions and confident about talent at his command, the ex-Porto FC captain did not single out individual players whose performances could make an impact. “For those who know me from last season, I do not talk about individual players. I do not believe in taking players names and putting pressure on one person. We approach the task as a playing unit.”
‘Happy with the players given’
MCFC’s new faces in this season’s squad include Tunisian striker Amine Chermiti, Croatian central defender Mato Grcic, and Indian internationals Rowllin Borges and Sarthak Golui, to name a few. Influential players from the previous season like goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, midfielder Paulo Machado, midfielder Raynier Fernandes, forward Modou Sougou are fit and available. “I am happy with the players given by the management. We have 25 players in the squad; I trust all of them.”
Arnold Issoko is among the missing names in Costa’s side — Issoko signed for French club S. M. Caen. The bustling Congo defender launched counter-attacks and linked up with Sougou.
Commenting on the pre-season and the players’ form, Costa said, “We have worked hard for two months in Mumbai, to get better than last season. I understand what [tactics] work here, this is not my first season at Mumbai City. We have lost players, but I have more options in hand now.”
Indranil Das Blah, the club CEO, explained the management’s decisions. “We have tried to keep it as consistent as possible. This is the second time we retained the head coach (Costa), after Alexandre Guimaraes (in charge for two consecutive seasons before the Costa took over in 2018). This is the first time the team had a pre-season in India, we otherwise always travelled abroad (Thailand).”
He added: “Jorge felt that in Thailand the facilities were great, but did not have good pre-season games. He was not happy with the intensity, nor were the players. This time in Mumbai (at the NMSA ground, Vashi), we faced three ISL clubs and Gokulam FC and two games [are] coming up. The competition is strong, so is the intensity and [that] is one major difference from the preparation viewpoint.”
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