Ever since the inception of the Indian Super League, Mumbai City FC have never found themselves in a position like this. With two games remaining, they’re well on course to secure a spot in the playoffs, for the first time ever. On Wednesday, they welcome Chennaiyin FC who currently lie sixth in the points table.
Mumbai coach, Alexandre Guimaraes, however, still feels that there is room for improvement, ”First thing that came to my mind is that we’re going to have to play even better than our last game to try to win the game and to put us in a very good position. We saw the game they played against Kolkata, we know that they are still on course and they’re very tough. They’re champions”.
“They already showed a different approach of an offensive game against Kolkata. They have good, strong players up front. We have to maintain our defensive concentration like we’ve been doing the whole season. It can be a much more open game than the one we played in Chennai,” Guimaraes stated.
Mumbai City FC have managed to amass the most points ever in their ISL history (19) but Alexandre said his side can’t afford to lift the pedal off the gas.
“The first goal is to get to the playoffs. From the beginning, we talked about that with the players. It’s good to have these points with two games to go but 19 points is not enough,” the coach pointed out.
Defensive solidity the key
Centre-back Lucian Goian has been in fine form for Mumbai, marshalling his defence from the very first game. The Romanian has rarely been caught out of position and Guimaraes heaped praise on the defender ahead of the match.
“I am very glad that he is playing well. He is a player that I know, he played for me in China when I was there. That’s why I recommended him to the club. His commitment to the team is fantastic and his leadership with the local guys is great. He is showing everyone how to play.”
“This is one of the aims of bringing a foreign player. All the younger footballers, watch and learn,” he added.
Twelve matches into the league, it finally seems as if Guimaraes has cracked his team’s ideal combination. Early on in the season, the Costa Rican had to do without the services of some important players like Sunil Chhetri, despite which his side pulled through.
“The difference I think is that we put the ball in. In the other games, we created too many chances but we didn’t score more than one goal. The team is showing a very solid collective defensive game. This is very important,” he explained.
Squad feels comfortable
The men in blue will be playing their third game this week but the coach believes veteran, Diego Forlan, can play the full 90 minutes if required.
“Yes, he’s been doing it in the other games as well. I took him out in the last game (Kerala Blasters) because we had played 3 days before and he did what we asked him to do. His situation is under control. He is a professional who understands what he is capable of.”
“The physical condition of the squad is great. We had one more day after the Kerala game and it’s a blessing for us. We didn’t have to travel and feel very comfortable,” he concluded.