ISL: Chennaiyin FC challenge awaits in-form Mumbai City FC

Champions Chennaiyin FC has had a season to forget so far, having amassed five points from its opening 10 games. In coach John Gregory’s words, it needs a ‘miracle’ to make it into the top four.

Arnold Issoko will be looking forward to the game against Chennaiyin.   -  ISL

Mumbai City FC will be keen to continue with its winning streak when it hosts a beleaguered Chennaiyin FC on Thursday in an Indian Super League game in Mumbai.

The Islanders are on a five-match unbeaten run, winning four games.

If it manages to avoid defeat against Chennaiyin, it will be its best unbeaten run in the history of the ISL and much of the credit has to go to its mean defence which has conceded just two goals since conceding five in the game against FC Goa.

Mumbai, which suffered an embarrassing loss in Goa, did not look back after that match. In the last game against Delhi Dynamos, Mumbai won 4-2.

“We have changed a lot of things compared to last season. We did not have a lot of time at the beginning of the season. We needed time to adjust. Now, we have no excuses and we need to keep working and fighting for the three points,” said Mumbai’s head coach Jorge Costa.

Paulo Machado continues to be the chief orchestrator for Costa’s side in midfield and Arnold Issoko’s direct running on the right flank has also caused a lot of trouble to the opposition defences.

Modou Sougou hasn’t been on the score-sheet since its 1-0 win in Chennai and tomorrow’s game is an opportunity for him to increase his tally against Chennaiyin FC’s disjointed defence, which has shipped in 19 goals.

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Mumbai City players in a practice session ahead of the game against Chennaiyin FC.   -  ISL

 

Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory was also appreciative of its opponent.

“I think they have a well-balanced team. I like Arnold, it’s very hard to shake him off the ball. (Matias) Mirabaje is great too but I think he’s been injured frequently. I also like the captain (Lucian Goian) but I think the strength of Mumbai lies in their teamwork. They don’t have any weak areas as such and are well-balanced,” said Gregory.

Chennaiyin FC has had a season to forget so far having amassed five points from its opening 10 games. It has eight matches to go and in coach Gregory’s words, it needs a ‘miracle’ to make it into the top four.

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“We’re a long way off from the play-offs and I think we need to win all the remaining eight games to even stand a chance of getting anywhere near the play-offs. But football being football, nothing is impossible! We need to win some points for our pride as I think we have performed nowhere to our standards this season,” said Gregory.

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Chennaiyin's Mailson Alves (L) and Carlos Salom prepping up for the game against Mumbai City.   -  ISL

 

The Marina Machans, however, wouldn’t want to throw in the towel as they will want to prove a point or two. The players are certainly under pressure as the big names have failed to live up to the billing.

Jeje Lalpekhlua has endured his worst season in the ISL with no goals to show for his efforts. Jerry Lalrinzuala too has looked shaky at the back and hasn’t had the same impact when going forward.

Mohammed Rafi, the experienced striker, could possibly get a chance to start as Gregory would look to chop and change in order to arrest the slide.

But with Mumbai on the rampage, the Chennai side, it seems, would have a difficult time.