Fast and furious are the two words that describe the Indian Super League aptly. A tournament, where experience and stardom meet youth, the teams are always looking to play a speedy game. And, one slip-up could cost them dear in the league table.
Keeping that in mind, Mumbai City FC — one of the most talked about franchises of the league — has gone for reshuffling ahead of the fifth season. Taking lessons from last year’s disastrous show — where it finished seventh — the team has made it a point to strike a balance in every department.
As a result, it has off-loaded most of the players from last season. While Romanian defender Lucian Goian — who’s also the captain — remains the only foreign recruit to be retained, goalkeepers Amrinder Singh and Kunal Sawant are also continuing at the franchise. In the midfield, the team has kept its faith in Sanju Pradhan, while forward Pranjal Bhumij too has been retained.
That apart, the side is all new and has some of the foreign recruits who have proved their mettle in the ISL for different franchises.
To ensure that the team stays sharp, the franchise has brought in Jorge Costa as the coach for the season. The 46-year-old, a former Portugal international, played at the highest level of international and club football for over a decade-and-a-half, with his most decorated moment coming in 2004, when he led FC Porto to UEFA Champions League glory.
Right after taking charge, the new coach made it clear that he will go all out to chase glory. And it would be interesting to see how he handles the side in an action-packed tournament like the ISL.
While Goian will represent the Islanders for the third season in a row, the team will also be pinning its hopes on attacking midfielder, Matias Mirabaje of Uruguay.
Then there is Paulo Machado, the 32-year-old Portuguese midfielder, who has featured for the national team and has played for FC Porto. With talented defenders like Subhashish Bose, Souvik Ghosh and Davinder Singh in its ranks, Mumbai City FC looks quite strong on paper. The midfield is also well stacked with the likes of Mohammad Rafique, Milan Singh and Bipin Singh.
Last year, inexperience cost the team dear, and taking lessons from that, the Islanders have made it a point to tick all the boxes.
At the ongoing pre-season tour in Thailand, the team is out to get the house in order and return home with loads of confidence.
Jorge Costa, coach
Player to watch out for
Last season, midfielder Matias Mirabaje played 12 matches for Delhi Dynamos and scored three goals and provided one assist. So, for a team which is looking to strike balance, Mirabaje would be a good addition.
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