MFC take on Pune in Maha Derby
Mumbai, Feb 10 (PTI) Hosts Mumbai City FC will be eager to record a crucial win against FC Pune City in the Maharashtra Derby tomorrow when the two sides face off in the Indian Super League.
Mumbai are currently languishing in seventh place with 17 points after 13 matches and need a win to keep alive their hopes of making it to the last four and qualifying for the play-offs.
On the other hand, the visiting Stallions are comfortably placed second in the table with 25 points after 14 matches and would be equally eager to score a win and boost their chances for the play-offs.
When the two teams met last in Pune in November, the Pune outfit edged out Mumbai 2-1 and the hosts would thus be eager to avenge that loss and reclaim the bragging rights.
In their last three home games, Mumbai City FC have suffered defeats at the hands of Jamshedpur FC (2-1), Bengaluru FC (3-1) and Kerala Blasters (1-0). Thus, the home players would like to erase those memories at the Mumbai Football Arena in the Andheri Sports Complex.
Mumbai's defence, especially Gerson Vieira and Lucian Goian, backed up by an alert custodian in Amrinder Singh needs to be on the alert.
In attack, Balwant Singh, Brazilian Everton Santos and attacking mid-fielders Brazilian Thiago Santos and Cameroonian Achille Emana can breach any good defence on their day and Pune's solid backline this season will be no exception.
Pune have been in good form. Star striker Marcelinho, who has been a top-scorer for his side and also scored the only goal of the match to earn Ranko Popovic's side a vital away win against NorthEast United in their previous fixture, has been in scintillating form recently.
Along with the Brazilian, the visitors also boast an effective forward line with Emiliano Alfaro and Diego Carlos to call upon.
Mid-fielders Baljit Sahni Issac, Vanmalsawma, Jonathan Lucca and new recruit Marko Stankovic have all put in impressive performances so far this season.
While FC Pune City has been firing on all cylinders, their backline of Adil Khan, Gurtej Singh, Rafael Lopez and Sahil Panwar along with in-form custodian Vishal Keith have proved they are a tough nut to crack.
Spectators can thus expect an action-packed game when the two Maharashtra sides clash.
Mumbai head coach Alexandre Guimaraes said there was still a possibility for the team to win the league.
"We know that there is still a possibility for us to win the league given the results of other teams during the week. The players are trying to understand that. Tomorrow is a good chance for us to continue to be in the race," Guimaraes said at the pre-match press conference today.
Talking about the team's performances in the last few games, Guimaraes said, "When you have the chances, you have to convert. We are playing against a team that is coming closer to their objective of making it to the top four. So they'll try to put pressure on us."
"But we are ready, we'll continue what we have been doing in terms of our performances," he added.
Guimaraes also backed his misfiring forward Balwant Singh to do well in tomorrow's game against FC Pune City.
"Everybody has a bad day, but he is rearing to go for tomorrow's game," the Costa Rican quipped.