The team punched above their weight and defied all odds when they qualified with a young brigade led by the Iranian Fazel Atrachali and Sandeep Narwal in PKL 7. Abhishek Singh and Arjun Deshwal impressed everyone with their sensational performances in the offense, which helped U Mumba finish in the top-4 last season.
With Rajaguru Subramanian as the team's new head coach, U Mumba retained the most (4) players in the Elite Retained Players (ERP) category: Fazel Atrachali, Abhishek Singh, Ajinkya Kapare, and Harendra Kumar. Navneet regained his spot in the side as the New Young Player (NYP).
In this article, we take an in-depth look at the U Mumba squad for PKL Season 8 through SWOT analysis.
SWOT analysis of U Mumba PKL 8 squad
Abhishek Singh was impressive last season with 162 raid points and 10 Super-10s, as he played the role of a vital cog in U Mumba's offense. He has been paired with the Tamilnadu-born V. Ajith Kumar, a sensational find for the Tamil Thalaivas with 121 raid points in PKL 7.
Both are agile raiders who are efficient and love to play in clinical moments. They are versatile raiders who can be explosive on the mat in any given situation. The Abhishek-Ajith duo could prove to be an exciting raiding combination in the eighth season of the PKL.
'Sultan' Fazel Atrachali is arguably the finest left corner defender currently playing in the PKL. The Iranian has been solid as a rock with his mighty waist holds & ankle holds, that can completely topple the oppositional raiders. Fazel is the only foreigner with more than 300 tackle points in the league. Having Atrachali is a major strength of its own.
Another major boost for U Mumba this season is the Iranian as their captain. He is known to lead a troop of youngsters with less experience and turn them into match-winners. Fazel did it with Gujarat Giants in PKL 5 and U Mumba in PKL 6 & 7, where the teams have made it to the playoffs with remarkable performances under his astute leadership.
A weakness derived from strength, U Mumba is overly dependent upon its leader Fazel Atrachali to produce the goods. Apart from Fazel, the PKL 2 champions look very thin in the defensive department.
The likes of Ashish Sangwan, Sunil Siddhgavali, Ajeet and Harendra Kumar haven't sparked much in previous seasons. Their performances in PKL 7 were rather poor. U Mumba's lack of consistent and aggressive defenders could cost them dearly in the upcoming season.
U Mumba's offense depends heavily upon Abhishek Singh and there will be pressure upon the raider to deliver in every match. He is the only experienced raider in the group. A slight slump in form for Abhishek could result in U Mumba getting into big trouble this season.
U Mumba is full of youngsters in both the offensive and defensive departments this season. Due to the team's deficiencies, they will be given chances at regular intervals. It will be completely up to them to make the most of the opportunities that they get.
The likes of Ajinkya Kapare and V. Ajith Kumar will be raring to score raid points consistently for the side after showing promise in the previous season. Meanwhile, U Mumba has shown immense faith in Chandigarh-based Category C player Rinku Sharma as their right corner. It will be intriguing to see how he fares in the corner defense with Fazel Atrachali in PKL 8.
The 34-year-old Rajaguru Subramanian has been appointed as the head coach for U Mumba in PKL 8. Although he has experience playing for India at the Asian Games and in the PKL, Subramanian has no prior experience when it comes to guiding a team as a coach. Rajaguru will be thrown right into the deep end and is expected to deliver results from the get-go.
U Mumba will have to be very careful with the opportunities they give the players to be in the starting seven to settle the team in the initial matches. Team management could have a selection headache this season. The majority of the players are either carrying a poor form into the season or will be making their debut for the first time in the PKL.