In the aftermath, Jorge Costa talked about how he liked the referee, who unlike his peers, had allowed the game to flow and engineered a high-intensity encounter. However, that also meant that several were waiting to throw accusations at the Islanders, stating that were just a touch too robust. The Portuguese though, rubbished those claims a day before the reverse fixture against Antonio Habas’ men on the 4th of December. He remarked,
Mumbai City FC have a clear identity. And, we play the way we work every day. And if the others don’t like it, it is not my problem. I am here to do my job and to make my team play good and we are playing well where we have more of the ball than the others.
Additionally, Costa was willing to use that encounter in Kolkata as inspiration, although he stressed that the game on Saturday would certainly follow a different narrative to what transpired in November. He said,
We definitely can’t forget the good we did against ATK and we did that by good organization. I am sure we will see a different game tomorrow but my players believe in me and my staff and we always stress on the collective more than individuals.
He further added,
We know that ATK can play three at the back while they also have the ability to play four at the back. We are prepared for both outcomes and we have played them before so obviously that helps. And, we are ready for whatever ATK could bring to the table.
However, Costa was also mindful of the absences that would plague his side against the Kolkata-based outfit. He quipped,
Obviously we will miss Paulo and Sarthak tomorrow, although the rest of the players are available. But, it is my job to find solutions and ensure that the team is ready for the game. And, I believe we have enough quality in our ranks and the players can rise to the occasion.
Consequently, one was led to ask the Portuguese manager if he planned on getting a new signing on board in January. In reply, he said that the club would only do so if there was an opportunity to sign a footballer that would significantly enhance the side and help them immediately.
Having said that, Costa also emphatically commented about any prospective outgoings, especially with regards to the core of the team.
No, no chance. I don’t want to lose anyone.
Thus, on the eve of the game, Mumbai’s manager highlighted the conviction that has come to define the Islanders’ fixtures over the past couple of seasons. And, while they know that ATK might be one of the toughest nuts they might have to crack in 2019-20 season of the ISL, they certainly aren’t in any mood to back down.