Jorge Costa "positively" surprised by level of football in ISL

Mumbai City head coach Jorge Costa has led his team to the playoffs of the Indian Super League season five.

Head coach Jorge Costa has led Mumbai City FC to the playoffs of the Indian Super League season five.   -  Twitter @MumbaiCityFC

Jorge Costa, the Portuguese head coach of Mumbai City FC, managed to guide his team to the Indian Super League playoffs in his debut season. The former captain of Jose Mourinho-coached FC Porto and member of the 2004 UEFA Champions League winning squad, has succeeded in moulding MCFC into a confident bunch of players, comfortable pushing forward into the rival half.

Costa’s team is preparing to face FC Goa in the season five semifinals (Bengaluru FC and North East United FC feature in the other semifinal).

Asked about his expectations from the players in the knockout phase, he said: “The first goal of finishing in the top four we achieved. Compared to the beginning for me and also the players, and to the stage reached now, we tried to make different kinds of things work. The players understand what needs to be done.”

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MCFC finished third in the league, winning nine and drawing three games out of 18. However, against Goa, Mumbai has suffered heavy defeats this season.  

“The last two games we played against them, the tally was  0-7. We need to change a lot of things of course if we want to play a final.” 

Team captain and playmaker Paulo Machado (also from Portugal), and strikers Rafael Bastos (Brazil) and Modou Sougou (Senegal) are expected to lead the way. Bastos and Sougou played under Costa at Romanain club CFR Cluj.

Costa, "positively" surprised at the level of football in India in his first stint here, refused to credit individual players for the team show.

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“It took some time for me to understand and also make myself and players familiar to this new reality. I was surprised in a positive way about the quality of teams and players (in ISL).

“They (Sougou and Bastos) have the experience in these situations and are working with the other players who would have learnt something. I respect all players and see football as a team sport.”