Mumbai City FC braces up for Jamshedpur challenge

The home team is keen to resurrect itself at the Mumbai Football Arena after its drubbing by Bengaluru FC.

Balwant Singh has been prolific for Mumbai City FC in the season so far, having hit six goals.   -  Arjun Singh/ISL/Sportzpics

Jamshedpur FC goal-keeper Subrata Paul will find himself under the scanner when he features in the Indian Super League tie at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday against his former club, Mumbai City FC.

The 31-year-old has been among the most impactful goal-keepers in the season, having stood under the bar for 13 matches - the most by any custodian so far - to ensure six clean-sheets. He has made 34 saves, and is well in contention for the Golden Glove award. His team has benefitted from his work; it is a victory away from carving out a space in the top four in the rankings.

Paul may be experienced enough to deliver the goods in big matches, but he has a challenging task ahead. Mumbai, which has within its ranks potent strikers in Balwant Singh and Thiago Santos (the two have contributed 11 goals together), is under pressure to perform at home. In its last home game, it received a drubbing in the hands of Bengaluru FC, and it is keen to resurrect itself.

Need for alert defence

The team is wary of defensive lapses that have proved costly in what has otherwise been a successful season in terms of displaying its attacking prowess. Its coach Alexandre Guimaraes recognises the threat posed by the organised unit that is Jamshedpur FC. Guimaraes said, “Jamshedpur is not a team which concedes too many goals. We have to be very accurate to convert the chances and our defence has to be very alert. Every detail can make the difference.”

Jamshedpur FC, on the other hand, specialises in defence. Its coach Steve Coppell has built his team’s defensive qualities using a mix of Indians and foreigners, among whom Spanish defender Jose Luis Arroyo (nicknamed Tiri), Brazilian midfielder Emerson Moura (nicknamed Memo) played central roles. Coppell expressed confidence in his side and reflected on the intensely-fought game against Mumbai earlier in the league. “You saw how in Jamshedpur, the result was 2-2, both teams wanted to win. The same will be true the second time.”

Mumbai, currently sixth in the standings, is expected to be at full strength for a must-win tie. Captain Lucian Goian and midfielder Leo Costa are available for selection, after missing earlier matches due to injuries. For it to ensure a favourable result, the team has to rediscover its sharpness.

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