Mumbai City FC lost 2-0 to Jamshedpur FC in their 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL) encounter on Saturday. With two games remaining, and five points separating the Islanders and league leaders ATK Mohun Bagan, Mumbai City FC's hopes of clinching the League Winners' Shield has suffered a major jolt.
Going into the game against Jamshedpur FC, Mumbai City FC made only one change to the side that lost 4-2 to Bengaluru FC in their previous ISL match. Mandar Rao Dessai replaced Vignesh Dakshinamurthy in the left-back position.
In their last five matches, Mumbai City FC have lost thrice. They were the first team to cement their place in the playoffs but have lost their steam recently. Speaking to the media after the match, head coach Sergio Lobera said:
"In the most important moment of the season, we are losing games. We need to analyze the situation. For me, today's game was different than last game. Against Bengaluru FC, we created a lot of chances. In some period of the game, we played very well.
"But today, it was the worst game we played so far. We deserved the defeat. We are strong with the ball. In the first half, we didn't make ten passes. It is difficult for us playing against a very good team.
"It became difficult to create chances against Jamshedpur FC. If we concede easy chances to Jamshedpur FC, this situation can happen."
In contrast to their philosophy of playing out from the back, Mumbai City FC players were found hoofing long balls to the opposite end in desperation.
"We are strong when we have the possession of the ball. When we are using long balls against strong and tall defenders (Peter Hartley and Stephen Eze), they are comfortable. We didn't manage the situation well. We need to keep the possession of the ball and find spaces in the opponent half," Lobera said.
"I always believe till the end" - Sergio Lobera on Mumbai City FC's chances of finishing top
Mumbai City FC now have 34 points from 18 matches, while ATK Mohun Bagan have 39 points playing the same number of games. A win for the Mariners in their upcoming match against Hyderabad FC would seal their place at the top.
ATK Mohun Bagan's head coach Antonio Lopez Habas had previously quipped that they want to arrive in their last ISL league stage match against Mumbai City FC with a difference of four points or more. That possibility looks highly likely now.
"I always believe till the end. Now the situation has obviously changed. It was dependent on us till now. We need to wait for the result on Monday. I think ATK (Mohun Bagan) vs Hyderabad FC is not an easy game. If it's not possible for them to win the game, the chance remains with us," Lobera signed off.