On the 11th of January, Mumbai City FC succumbed to their 2nd consecutive defeat in the ISL when they tepidly went down to Odisha FC at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar. Subsequently, several were left stunned at the sheer woefulness of their performance, with many earmarking that showing as perhaps the worst they had produced under Jorge Costa.
Thus, on the eve of the Islanders’ next encounter against Bengaluru FC, there were plenty of loose ends the Portuguese had to tie up. Rather encouragingly though, Costa made all the right noises. He quipped,
It is always more difficult to work after a bad game but it was a normal week, where we spoke about the things that didn’t go well. But, we also looked at the good things and how we have made very good games previously, in order to understand that we have the requisite quality. I believe in my players and I believe that we can give a good answer tomorrow.
However, the Portuguese also stressed about the challenge the defending champions would pose and how that would require the Islanders to be at the top of their games, mentally, physically and tactically. Moreover, Costa opened up on Bengaluru’s proficiency from set-pieces, thereby stating that the Islanders would need to be completely alert to avoid the concession of cheap goals.
In fact, shipping such goals has been a concern for Mumbai City FC throughout the campaign, with them having already given up 21 goals in 12 matches, which incidentally is a goal more than what they allowed in 18 league games last term. On the aforementioned aspect, Costa commented,
Obviously that is not something I am very proud of. We are conceding silly goals and that was embodied against Odisha. I know this is not an excuse but this is the reality. There have been some individual mistakes and we have been made to pay, at this level. We need to fix this but sometimes it is difficult to completely change.
Having said that though, Costa maintained that the visit of Bengaluru FC didn’t add another layer of pressure, especially considering the high-stakes characteristic of the ISL. He said,
There is no extra pressure facing Bengaluru. They are probably the best team in India but I treat it as just another game. We have prepared the same way as the other matches and have taken into account the changes they might make, with regards to their personnel and system. They have players with individual quality that can hurt us and we need to be focused to avoid that.
Thus, 24 hours before the encounter, the Islanders’ manager explicitly stated the qualities he required from his players whereas he also emphasized on treating the contest on Friday akin to just another clutch clash, wherein the primary objective would remain three points.
During his tenure so far, Costa has gotten the wood over the Blues, considering Carles Cuadrat’s troops haven’t managed a single positive result across three matches. Yet, even the Portuguese would admit that it remains imperative that the Islanders don’t provide an aberration at the Mumbai Football Arena.
Hence, there are countless sub-plots interwoven among themselves, meaning that the stage is set for a titanic tussle come Friday.