AFC Champions League

We will give the best of ourselves: Des Buckingham ahead of Navbahor clash

Atawaris WarsiAtawaris Warsi

October 3 2023

Mumbai City defender Rostyn Griffiths mentioned about his previous experience of playing against Navbahor.

Mumbai City FC have had a strong start to the 2023-24 ISL season, with a notable victory over NorthEast United on their home ground and a draw against Odisha FC at the Kalinga Stadium. The team is now eagerly looking forward to their second AFC Champions League clash against Uzbekistan’s Navbahor.

However, their initial performance in the AFC Champions League against Iran’s Nassaji Mazandaran was disappointing, and they now face a tough test against Navbahor, who managed to hold off Al Hilal in their first AFC Champions League match. Al Hilal is a team that boasts star players such as Neymar, Koulibaly, Mitrović, Malcom, Ruben Neves, and others.

Let’s take a look at what Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham and defender Rostyn Griffiths highlighted before the match:

Des Buckingham’s opinion about the match

Des Buckingham is well aware of the potential threat his team will face if they lose their match against Navbahor. The team experienced an unfortunate loss a few days ago in the AFC Champions League opener, and they are in dire need of a victory to breathe a sigh of relief.

The tactician addressed, “We are very much looking forward to the game. We had a good first game at home and we know that, the other game here was a very close one but a very good one. So, it’s something we are looking forward to, but we do as much as we can to prepare.”

“We watched as many games as we could before we got here to try and prepare ourselves as well as we could. I like this league, it has got very good teams and players that are strong”, the Islanders’ head coach noted the importance and toughness of the Uzbekistan Super League.

Navbahor and the Uzbekistan Super League

Rostyn Griffiths, who has previously played in the Uzbek league, characterises his experience against Navbahor as a challenging one. Griffiths was a part of Pakhtakor Tashkent in 2017, a team that is a direct rival to Navbahor. 

“They (Navbahor) are a physically strong team. To play here was difficult. The fans, the atmosphere was always very noisy and loud. Since then, new players have come, some from Pakhtakor. They are gonna be strong.”

“My expectations from the players would be about dealing with the atmosphere. I expect a good crowd tomorrow. Certainly when I played here, it was a really good crowd, quite hostile, which is great,” Rostyn Griffiths shed light on the atmosphere in Navbahor’s home games.

The loss to Nassaji and the key takeaways

Mumbai City FC had a stroke of bad luck during their encounter with Nassaji, as Des Buckingham’s team put on a brilliant performance throughout both halves but unfortunately conceded the goals. Rostyn discusses the crucial lessons learned from the match and outlines their strategy for reducing errors against the Uzbek side.

“I think if we play that game 10 times, we would win eight or nine of them. And we take that side of it and think positively. But the other side to that is, in these games against these oppositions, you can’t make simple mistakes. We made two mistakes and they scored two goals, and that’s a good learning curve for our players. It’s a good learning curve for everybody,” Griffiths highlighted.

What can we expect in this match?

Des Buckingham believes that his team will give everything for winning the game against Navbahor. The fans too expect the same. He mentioned, “I would like to show what we can do. We have a very clear way of playing, a very clear belief on what we do. This is my third year and the players have really bought into that. But we need to make sure that we try and execute that as well as we can. The thing you can expect from us is that we will give the best of ourselves, our club.”

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