Mumbai FC will have to get over a few off-field distractions if they are to mount a strong challenge to Royal Wahingdoh FC when the two teams meet in an I-League clash at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong on Sunday.
With coach Khalid Jamil suspended for four games for his part in a fracas during a previous match against Bengaluru FC and Dane Lloyd Pereira banned indefinitely for failing a dope test, the Mumbai team really need to find the mental fortitude in a crunch fixture against the Royals.
Mumbai FC have not won a game since the end of February, and though they have picked up single points through many draws since then, the winning instinct has failed them. The visitors are currently in eighth place with 15 points from as many outings.
Mumbai FC manager Henry Picardo said that it will be a challenging game for his team, considering that they only just played at Sporting Clube de Goa on Wednesday. However, he assured that the non-attendance of Jamil from the sidelines would not have any impact as the club have already secured two draws in his absence.
Someone he is missing is Taisuke Matsugae, who is out injured, but otherwise, the Mumbai FC squad remains the same as in the last fixture. Mumbai FC have already played once in Shillong this season, drawing 1-1 with Lajong FC in January.
Every match is big for us: Kashyap
For the Royals, this game is most important as the third-placed outfit only have four more to play and need to make every one of them count if they are to challenge for the I-League title. The Mumbai FC match will be the penultimate home game for the men in yellow.
There are a couple of injury concerns for coach Santosh Kashyap; ChhakChhuak Lawlawmzuala and Kim Song Yong are doubtful, but a final call will be taken on the morning of the game.
Kashyap described his Sunday opponents as a "rough and tough side" whose style of playing long balls contrasts with the short passes of Royal Wahingdoh. Still, he described Jamil and Picardo as friends from their playing days, while Mumbai FC also have a few players who have been coached by Kashyap at the junior level, so he expects a good contest.
“Every match is big for us. Tomorrow we will be up against a good rough and tough side and we will try to make use of the home advantage,” the Royal Wahingdoh coach said.
(Report courtesy I-League Media)