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I-League 2017: Are Mumbai on their way out of I-League? Absolutely not, reckons new coach, Oscar Bruzon

FEATURED COLUMNIST
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08 Apr 2017, 01:14 IST
Bruzon will look to help his side stave off relegation

What should Mumbai FC do to avoid relegation this season? Change the manager? Something they did a fortnight ago. But Mumbai’s newly appointed coach, Spaniard Oscar Bruzon puts things into perspective, addressing reporters before his team’s crunch game.

“I’m here for just 45 days as per the contract. I am not thinking beyond that. I am doing my best to help this group, to fight for our position in the I-League. In the future? Only God knows.”

Mumbai FC and Churchill Brothers S.C. will face each other on Saturday in what is touted to be the game that will determine the fate of the Maharashtrian side in the I-League. The last time these two sides met in January, Mumbai emerged 2-1 winners in a nail-biting contest. Substitute forward, Karan Sawhney scored a stoppage time winner back then.

The Goan club currently lie sixth on the table, with 16 points, six more than bottom-placed Mumbai after 14 rounds of matches. But the clubs sandwiched between them, DSK, Minerva and Chennai are all exempt from relegation, due to the 3-year cushion period provided to new entrants.

This relegation battle comes at a time when uncertainty continues to persist surrounding the future of the league which was founded merely 10 years ago.

Bruzon, though, only lives in the moment. “We’re going to do it. The communication with the players has been very clear and we’re approaching the game from different angles. From my side, it’s all been positive. The players know what we need to do to beat Churchill tomorrow,” he stated.

The side from the city of seven islands have never been relegated since the formation of the league, and goalkeeper, Laxmikant Kattimani, like his coach, seems to have adopted the zen philosophy of living in the present.

Mumbai FC gearing up for their clash against Churchill

“Everyone knows that we’re in a bad phase but in football, anything can happen. It’s a big game for us, the team is ready. It’s better we don’t talk about the past because nothing will come back,” he said.

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Coach, Bruzon realises what his side are up against. Churchill have been in fine form of late, beating the likes of Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in March. “They have the best Goan players and they have Derrick Pereira (coach), in my opinion, he’s the best Indian coach currently.”

“They have a good set of foreigners especially up front and are very dangerous on the counter attack. We can’t give them space during transitions. They are a tough team but tomorrow Mumbai FC is also going to be a tough team, ready to fight with anybody,” the Spaniard explained.

The situation looks far from promising. Mumbai FC don’t have a prayer to call their own. But they do have hope. Bundles of it, which arrived all the way from the city of Vigo in Spain, Bruzon’s hometown.

“I want the guys to believe and I am repeating this every day for the past two weeks. Whoever doesn’t believe in this project, does not have room to play with us. The management and fans are confident we can do it. The players are confident we can do it,” he said.

At a time when nothing less than wins will suffice, the coach believes that’s something they shouldn’t be obsessing about at all. “I don’t want to keep emphasising on the results. We always keep talking about winning, winning! Result Result!

“Of course that is our target but we need to focus on the process. We now know are strengths. The evolution of this team has been excellent and I am very satisfied. It’s 4 pm now, I want the 27 hours to pass very quickly because I want to see these guys perform on the pitch,” he signed off.

One thing is certain, if Mumbai fail to save themselves from relegation, we may not have a single team from the financial capital partaking in India’s oldest league, come 2018.

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