At the end of the first half against Jamshedpur FC, Mumbai City FC stared down the barrel, especially after the Red Miners had established a one-goal cushion. To put things into perspective, the Islanders, prior to the fixture, hadn’t managed to salvage a victory from a losing position in 2019-20.
Thus, the hosts faced the unenviable task of bucking the trend in a crunch clash that boasted the potential to undo the hard yards they had put in throughout their campaign. Fortunately, for the Mumbai faithful though, the players turned in a sumptuous second-half performance, meaning that they erased the arrears and then clinched three points in the dying moments of the encounter.
On being asked what he said during his half-time team talk, Jorge Costa said,
We were not too unhappy with the first half. However, we were slightly surprised by the way Jamshedpur played. They changed the system and had many attacking players in their line-up. The way the first half went, I felt that we could have a bit more quality when in possession of the ball.
Additionally, the Portuguese talked about how proud he was of his charges, especially after they rose to the occasion and scripted an important win.
I am very proud of all the work the players have done, right from the first day. I am very proud of what they are doing every day. I don’t know what will happen in these last two games but the top four is something we will fight for. I am proud because we are fighting in the right way, even with different realities. In some situations, we are not as strong as some other teams in the ISL but we are giving our best every day. So, whatever happens in the end, I am very happy with my players.
Throughout the game, Mumbai kept exploiting the spaces Jamshedpur left between their defence and midfield. In fact, the above even prompted Costa to include Raynier Fernandes in his starting line-up ahead of Serge Kevyn, who would’ve been a like-for-like replacement for Modou Sougou.
We studied that Jamshedpur leave a lot of space in those areas and that is why I preferred Raynier. We used it well in the second half also and created lots of chances.
However, it was Raynier’s compatriot, Bidyananda Singh, who stole the limelight courtesy his 92nd-minute winner. And, unsurprisingly, Costa praised the midfielder profusely. He commented,
Bidya and Sourav are different players and they have different qualities. Bidya has good quality on the ball. Before the game. I thought Sourav’s qualities might be more suited, but I corrected my mistake at half-time. And, Bidya scored and more importantly, he gave us what the game was asking.
Consequently, all eyes shifted to the Islanders’ next encounter, which sees them travel to Fatorda to face table toppers, FC Goa.
I know we don’t have a good record against FC Goa. But I have beaten them once. So, I know how it feels. Now, it is important to recover and then prepare for the match.
Over the past couple of weeks, Mumbai City FC have generated a decent head of steam and at this juncture, they seem favourites to qualify ahead of the likes of Chennaiyin FC and Odisha FC.
Yet, Jorge Costa and the Islanders would only know too well that it could all unravel rather spectacularly against the Gaurs, especially if they let their foot off the pedal.