On the 12th of February 2020, Mumbai City FC succumbed to another thumping defeat against FC Goa, meaning that their final league encounter against Chennaiyin FC morphed into a must-win clash.
Ahead of the fixture, coach Jorge Costa acknowledged the strings that existed in the Marina Machans’ impressive bow, stating,
Chennaiyin are a different team than the beginning of the season, especially after the changing of the coach. They are doing well and they are a very good team with a lot of good players. But, my players know what they must do [tomorrow] and we need to do all that together.
However, despite the high-pressure nature of the match, the Portuguese maintained that it was something that the players needed to adapt to.
I have said this earlier also that if we can’t handle pressure, we should change our jobs. I said 10 days ago as well that I don’t know what will happen come the end of the league stages but I am very proud of all the work the players are doing since the first day of the season.
Fortunately for Mumbai City FC, they boast the luxury of calling upon a majority of their squad for the crunch clash, something that hasn’t been the case for much of the season.
Obviously it is a lot better to have more options available. We still have some players that are out till the end of the season. Tomorrow is the last game of the regular season and it is the most important game of the season and it is one game that he have to win. Hence, it is good to have all the players available [after suspension].
Having said that though, the Islanders would be locking horns with a side that has frequently played the role of party poopers. To put things into perspective, Chennaiyin FC defeated FC Goa in Goa in the ISL final in 2015, whereas they repeated that dose against Bengaluru FC at the Kanteerava, there years later.
Thus, one couldn’t help but query if being the home side in such situations was detrimental. Costa though, replied in the negative, commenting,
We are under pressure, not because we are at home. This [home form] is nothing. If we compare the two teams, in terms of confidence from the last game, Chennaiyin must be better. But, it is something I don’t believe. I simply don’t believe in it. I can’t accept that one team can have more confidence than another team.
Thus, just a day prior to the game, Costa had tried to ease the tensions around the camp by impeccably speaking on how the match was quite similar to just another contest at the ISL, wherein the players needed to concentrate on their football, rather than worrying about the ancillary aspects.
However, now, it is up to Mumbai City FC’s players to pay heed to their manager’s advice and accord the Islanders’ faithful a memorable evening at the Arena.