The Islanders boss also shared his thoughts on ATKMB not playing Florentine Pogba and more.

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham has asserted that his side will not change their approach specifically to counter Hugo Boumous as ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB) visit the Islanders for their Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 encounter on Sunday evening.

Boumous was Mumbai’s star man as they went on to win the league double under Sergio Lobera’s tutelage in the 2020-21 season. However, the 27-year-old moved on to ATKMB in the very next season. This is the first time that the former ISL ‘Golden Ball’ winner is returning to the city since his separation with the club.

How does Mumbai City plan to counter Hugo Boumous?

“We know the strengths not just of Hugo but a lot of the other players that they have. But we won’t change our approach,” Des Buckingham outlined his plans for Sunday.

He added, “We are wary of the individuals they have. We know the threats that they pose as a team, some of the units and some of the work that they do. They are a good team. They have got some very good players across the field. If we concentrate too much on stopping one player, we know that it can hurt us elsewhere.”

The tactician further explained, “it’s pretty much about taking an approach where we set ourselves up for what we think we may face and just staying consistent to that. We spend about 80 percent of the time looking at what we do. That’s with the ball and without. There are small differences that we make week-on-week and game-on-game just to make sure that if there are players like Hugo or others, we have got certain ways to deal with it without affecting our plans too much.”

What is it about ATK Mohun Bagan that concerns Mumbai City?

ATKMB are coming into this game on the back of consecutive victories against Kerala Blasters and East Bengal. They won 5-2 against Kerala and emerged victorious 2-0 in the Kolkata Derby. The Islanders will definitely be cautious of the threat that the Mariners pose with their attack coming into the fold flawlessly in the last couple of games.

“As always, the focus is on us. If we can keep building and get better round by round. I am very happy with the progress we have made since round one. Going to Kochi, playing in front of that crowd and certainly putting the performance that we did in the first-half,” Des Buckingham said.

He further quipped, “If we can continue building our playing style and making sure that we set ourselves up defensively, that’s the focus for me. It’s not so much looking at the other teams. We know we have to be wary of other teams. ATKMB have shown their strength, especially in the last two games. But we spend our time focusing on ourselves as much as possible for what we manifest.”

Florentin Pogba and overall approach for the game

Florentin Pogba, one of ATKMB’s marquee signings this year, has played only 28 minutes in the ISL so far. Juan Ferrando has apparently remarked previously that the team hasn’t come across opposition that press aggressively so far. Des Buckingham opened up that Mumbai City cannot be overtly fussed with the other side beyond a point and refocused the attention on his own team’s style and approach irrespective of the opposition.

“I have no idea whether (Florentin) Pogba will start tomorrow. I think coaches have their own reasons for playing certain players at certain times. Juan obviously has his own reason with Pogba. If they don’t play Pogba, they have got Brendan Hamill, whom I am very familiar with during my time in the A-League. Brendan is a good ball-playing centre-back as well as a good defender.

“I think they have got two very good defenders in the same manner that we have Mourtada Fall and Rostyn Griffiths,” Buckingham spoke up.

He added, “So, the way we are going to approach tomorrow’s game. We will do what we have done in the first four games. If we need to press, if we can press, we will. We are at home. We want to take the game to ATK Mohun Bagan and put on a good show for our fans. That’s our DNA and how we want to play. But again, we can’t do for 93-94 minutes as the game goes on, because of the heat, because of the conditions.”

“So there will be times when we set off and again come back to the state of the game. It might be just the score-line or it might be us consolidating ourselves before we press again. So it’s more about game management, making sure that we have got the best of both. But it’s about doing it at the right time,” Buckingham detailed about his overall vision for the side.

Vignesh Dakshinamurthy on lack of playing time

Vignesh Dakshinamurthy had a breakout season in Mumbai’s defining 2020-21 campaign as the fullback played 22 games that season. This time around, he has come on the field only once for 10 minutes. There has been increased competition in the left-back slot for Mumbai City with the likes of Sanjeev Stalin, Mandar Rao Dessai and Dakshinamurthy battling it out for the same position in the team.

“When it comes to the game-time, it’s true that I am not playing much this season. As a player, it’s my duty to train hard and improve what I am lacking. Whenever I get the chance, I have to make sure that I am ready, physically and mentally. So that’s what I am doing now.

“When the competition comes, it also makes tougher in the training session. It helps to improve my game as a player. So it’s good for me to challenge Mandar bhai and Sanjeev and it helps me to learn new things,” the 24-year-old revealed his thought process.

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