ISL: Mumbai Football Arena re-lays pitch for play-offs and final

The Mumbai Football Arena has prepared a brand-new pitch for the play-off first leg and the ISL 2018-19 final.

The newly prepared pitch at the Mumbai Football Arena, Andheri.   -  Special Arrangement

A new green carpet of grass is ready to welcome Mumbai City FC and FC Goa players, as they walk out onto the playing pitch at the Mumbai Football Arena (MFA). The Indian Super League season five play-off game on Saturday night will be on a fresh surface, in keeping with the quality expected from the teams. The venue is also hosting the final later, a first at the Andheri stadium managed by the Mumbai District Football Association (Navi Mumbai’s D.Y. Patil stadium hosted the 2014 final)

MFA Trustee, Dinesh Nair, also Association of Indian Football Coaches (AIFC) Director, explained that MDFA, D.Y. Patil Academy, ISL teamed up to upgrade the pitch. “We worked with a team from the D.Y. Patil headed by curator Manjeet the day after Mumbai City’s last league match here was over. The intent was to create a surface of international quality, so that skillful players can entertain the fans with their game. We are ready to give players a memorable pitch experience”

MCFC played all league games at the stadium. Local league matches were stopped to avoid further wear and tear and about three weeks of work went into the re-layering, according to information from ISL. The existing grass was removed, the surface appeared brown. Fertilizer was added and fresh grass was cultivated and manicured under the supervision of the D.Y. Patil Academy team.

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Two years ago, MFA hosted international friendlies of England, Brazil and New Zealand U-17 squads to simulate match conditions before leaving for respective venues to play the FIFA U-17 World Cup group games. England, champion in the FIFA event hosted by India, had players Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea FC) to name a few under chief coach Steve Cooper who trained at MFA.

Former India head coach, Stephen Constantine, conducted preparatory camps for the national team at the Andheri stadium due to the turf quality and facilities available.  The MFA Trustee hopes MCFC and FC Goa players will enjoy playing on the pitch.

Mumbai City travels to Nehru stadium, Fatorda, for the second leg play-off against on March 12.  The ISL final will be held on March 17.