Mumbai City FC’s new coach, Jorge Costa, believes any opponent at full strength makes contests worthwhile.
He was referring to the absence of midfielder Tim Cahill from the Jamshedpur FC ranks for Indian Super League 2018’s first game at the Mumbai Football Arena.
“I am not the kind of coach who looks at players missing in the rival camp,” said the Portuguese, adding, “It is more important to look at my house, meaning my players and see what they can do in the game.”
JFC will take the field without goal-getter Cahill, who was suspended for three matches after video evidence showed him elbowing Ryan Fredericks while playing for Millwall against Fulham. He sat out Millwall’s next two matches and will have to miss JFC’s ISL opener.
Also missing will be goalkeeper Subrata Paul (suspension) and Dhananchandra Singh (injured).
Chief coach Cesar Ferrando observed: “At the moment I have 32 players to choose from. The players have worked very hard and not having three players is no excuse.”
The Spaniard, in charge for the first time in ISL, said: “All I ask from them is to play freely, without any pressure and fight to win points.”
Ferrando, marshalling resources in a squad heavy on foreign faces from Spain, hinted that finding a balance would be his focus.
“We don’t have any style as such, we defend and attack. If you see the way FC Barcelona plays, the team is good in offence and defence. There is a need to balance both,” Costa, his counterpart, sounded cautious. “I don’t have any information (on Jamshedpur) and don’t know what to expect.”
Mumbai City has assembled a mix of African and Portuguese players. Fulfilling the stipulation of six Indians in the playing squad is not a worry for both coaches.
The JFC roster includes three youngsters from the Tata Football Academy. Ferrando feels this decision sends a positive message to the academy boys that a place in the first team is within reach.
The Portuguese in charge at Mumbai City expressed surprise at the quality shown by local players from the day he took over.
“I had no access to ISL in Portugal, from the time I started talks with the management and observed the players, I am positively surprised.”
Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, Anwar Ali, Subhasish Bose are among the regulars on the home team.