The Islanders will be looking forward to continuing their form from the comeback victory against Air Force Club.

As Des Buckingham promised before the tournament, Mumbai City became the first Indian club to win a game in AFC Champions League. The win against the Iraqi club gave the side the much-needed confidence to compete against the top Asian clubs. Mumbai City FC will be up against Al Jazira, a club from UAE, in their next game.

The UAE side is yet to win a point after two consecutive losses. But, coach Des Buckingham and his boys must be under no illusion how difficult the game would be. Before the ball starts rolling and players tussle and muscle on the pitch, let’s have a look at the three key battles that could decide the victors.

Plenty of chances but no finished product

3. Zayed Sultan Vs Lallinzuala Chhangte

Zayed Sultan
This young centre-back has been in excellent form this season (Courtesy: Al Jazira Media)

The UAE youngster Zayed Sultan is making strides for his versatility on the pitch for Al Jazira. He can play both as a left centre back and in double pivot. Despite being young Zayed possesses a tremendous ability to disrupt attacks and is least prone to mistakes. 

Lallinzuala Chhangte moved to Mumbai City after a three years stint at Chennaiyin to play in the Champions League. Consequently, he is making the most out of this opportunity. The high-flying winger will be a headache for Zayed Sultan. Chhangte is known for his blistering pace and clinical finishing.

The former Liverpool International Academy product has a knack of performing magic on big occasions, like nutmegging Ever Banega in the first game, and the Islanders will hope the same again.

2. Abdoulay Diaby Vs Mandar Rao Dessai

Mandar Rao Dessai
Dessai will have his task cut out by Diaby on the left flank (Courtesy: ISL Media)

Keeping Diaby quiet will undoubtedly be the biggest concern for Des Buckingham and team. The Mali attacker is good with both feet and has been among the positives for Al Jazira in the ongoing campaign. 

The forward will again play on the right flank as Idrees has impressed on the left one, and both would form a deadly duo. To stop them, Mandar Rao Dessai needs to continue his good work from the last game. He has started both the games in ACL so far and will be a reliable option against Al Jazira too.

1. Ali Mabkhout Vs Mourtada Fall

Mourtada Fall
Fall has been like an unmovable object in the Mumbai City defence (Courtesy: ISL Media)

It is no secret that if Mumbai City have to do well in the tournament, captain Mourtada Fall will be the key to it. The towering defender was rock-solid at the heart of the defence on a historical night against Iraq’s Air Force Club. Although Hammadi Ahmed scored in the game, it was the Senegalese player who was dominant. 

Fall is known for his aerial presence and positioning and leads from the front. But against Al Jazira he will be up for some real challenge against UAE striker Ali Mabkhout. Ali is yet to score in this Champions League campaign, but it’s only a matter of time for the ruthless attacker. The Indian fans are well aware of his exploits after the 2019 AFC Asian Cup and the friendly game where India lost 6-1. 

The 31-year-old must be eager to hit the strides against the Islanders and restricting him throughout will surely benefit the Indian club.

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