The Mumbai City FC coach also congratulated Bipin for becoming the highest goalscorer in the Islanders’ history.

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham appreciated the midfield duo of Ahmed Jahouh and Alberto Noguera as the Islanders defeated Odisha FC 2-0 at the Mumbai Football Arena on Saturday. An own goal by Shubham Sarangi and then a late strike by Bipin Singh helped the home side secure their first victory of this season.

Buckingham also spoke highly of the home fans as he celebrated the team’s return to their home turf for the first time after February 2020. Here are the excerpts from his post-match press conference.

On starting Jahouh and Noguera together

The tactician reshuffled the lineup in this game and Jahouh and Noguera induced significant creativity at the centre of the park. The two of them carved open Odisha FC’s midfield as Mumbai managed to hold control of the proceedings for a major portion of the game.

“We went with Noguera and Jahouh because the way they played last week, we finished very strongly. We felt that relationship between the two of them particularly was very strong. Obviously, we started Mehtab alongside Rostyn this time which allowed us to have another player in the attacking third in Noguera and Greg a little bit higher up,” Buckingham said.

He added, “So, we have got different combinations that we can use and we have got different combinations that we will use right from the start. Tonight you saw the importance of not only the foreign players and how they rotate and we rotate them, but also the squad that we have.”

Variety in Mumbai City’s frontline

Des Buckingham lauded the versatility in Mumbai City’s frontline and explained that attackers with different skillsets are necessary for the team to get success in this long season. He particularly detailed on the roles of the winger trio of Bipin Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte and Vikram Pratap Singh.

It was Chhangte’s shot that led to the own goal that put Mumbai ahead in the game. Then, Bipin struck a sweet shot in the final minute to become the highest goal-scorer in the Islanders’ history.

“Firstly, congratulations to Bipin for he becomes the highest goal-scorer for the club in our history tonight. That’s a wonderful achievement for him. I am sure he will go on to get many more, hopefully, the next week to start with. But for the three of them: we have got Vikram, Chhangte and Bipin, they all have different skillset. That’s so important as we move ahead in the season.

“The way we play, we do have good midfield players. But if we can create space for them, to start with, that’s the important role of our wingers,” Buckingham explained.

He further added, “The beauty of having three, with different skillsets, is when we play different teams. Each of them is going to be very important. If a team wants to come press us, we know we have the pace to go in behind. If a team wants to drop deeper, we know we have tricky ball players. So it just gives us different options that we might want to use right at the start or throughout the game.”

Returning to the Mumbai Football Arena

“I have really enjoyed the last two and a half hours of my life,” De Buckingham quipped speaking about returning to the Islanders’ home ground after two years. He expressed gratitude to the fans for their constant support and hoped that they continue to flock to the stadium in similar numbers for the rest of the campaign as well.

“To be welcomed the way, not just me but the whole team has, with the fans, they didn’t stop singing our names throughout the game. Hence for the game to play out the way it did, and certainly the way we finished, we hope we have sent them home happy. Not only the three points but the way we played, and especially the goal, in the end, it certainly sends home a very nice message.

Hopefully, that support continues and we see as many of them back here when we play Jamshedpur here next week,” the 38-year-old signed off.

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