The Islanders will eye another victory against Iraq’s Air Force Club.
Mumbai City FC will want to bow out of the AFC Champions League in style in their reverse fixture against the Air Force club of Iraq on April 27. Des Buckingham’s side were dismantled in a 6-0 loss to Al-Shabab in the last game. But the manager looked to the positives from their performance in the first half. He will want his side to regroup and clinch another win against the side that they have already triumphed in their last meeting.
The Falcons have a comfortable lead over their Indian counterparts and only need a draw to finish second in Group B. However, they must win to keep their chances of making the knockouts stage.
Mumbai City Vs Air Force Club: The Stakes
Mumbai City’s AFC Champions League journey is all but over as they sit last in Group B with four points. Despite getting a win, the club has had two heavy defeats inflicted on them. The losses against Saudi side Al-Shabab ( 3-0 and 6-0), have added to a dismal goal difference of -9 for the Islanders. As a result, even a win, which would mean a perfect record against the only other side with seven points, would not be enough.
Hakeem Shaker’s Air Force Club will want to guarantee their playoffs spot with a win against Mumbai City. That would take them up to ten points and keep them in the hunt for making the round of 16. A draw, however, could drop them to third position in Group B if Al Jazira beat Al-Shabab. The Falcons would also want to avenge the defeat against Mumbai City in the reverse fixture.
Mumbai City Vs Air Force Club: Team News
Mumbai City will probably have their whole matchday squad intact for the first time since the start of the AFC Champions League. Igor Angulo played the majority of the match in their 6-0 loss to Al-Shabab and will be available for contention once again. All other players are fit and ready to feature for Des Buckingham’s side should the Englishman require their services.
The Air Force Club will once again miss the services of goalkeeper Fahad Talib, who has been sidelined since 10th March due to a knee injury. While his return remains uncertain, attacker Ahmed Najm is also not available for selection in the Champions League. Apart from these two players, head coach Hakeem Shaker has no notable absentees and is likely to set up his preferred starting lineup.
Mumbai City Vs Air Force Club: Head-to-Head
Mumbai City went down in history with their first-ever AFC Champions League win against the Air Force Club of Iraq in their last meeting. The Islanders will be hopeful of playing the Iraqi outfit once again. Confidence will be high and they will look to replicate their consolidated display last time around. Hakeem Shaker’s side will most definitely be out for vengeance and try to level the record.
Mumbai City Vs Air Force Club: Probable Line-ups
Mumbai City FC: Phurba Lachenpa (GK); Rahul Bheke, Mourtada Fall, Mehtab Singh; Raynier Fernandes, Ahmed Jahouh, Apuia, Bipin Singh; Lallianzuala Chhangte, Brad Inman; Igor Angulo.
Air Force Club: Mohamed Saleh (GK); Sameh Saeed, Ali Kadhem, Ahmad Khalaf, Roderick Miller, Dhurgham Ismael; Ibrahim Bayesh, Safaa Hadi, Mohammed Ali Abbood, Sharif Abdul-Khadim; Hammadi Ahmed.
Mumbai City Vs Air Force Club: Players to Watch
Igor Angulo (Mumbai City)
The Spaniard will be an interesting watch against Air Force Club. Especially after how his Brazilian teammate fared against the Iraqi side in their last meeting. Though Diego Mauricio was reliant on his excellent hold-up play and strength to get himself into clever positions, Air Force Club seems to have a general weakness against skilled strikers.
Roderick Miller, Ali Kadhim, and Al-Hammadi are excellent defenders, but are prone to individual mistakes due to their short temper. Ali Kadhim will rue his rash decision to take Mauricio down in the box in the last meeting as that paved the way for the Islanders to equalise, and eventually script a historic win.
Angulo’s return was not exactly the best of matches for him. However, he’ll be looking forward to make a mark in this game. Since he’s more of a deeper-lying forward with a splendid eye for goal, he can make those split-second opportunities count for Mumbai City as well as string together passes to help his side advance up the pitch. His spot-kick efficiency will be another reliable asset, should Des Buckingham’s men find themselves another golden chance of the sort.
Hammadi Ahmad (Air Force Club)
The 32-year-old Iraqi striker has already demonstrated why he is a feared fox-in-the-box for the Air Force Club. Technically gifted and with an eye for goal, he only needed half a chance to score against the Islanders in their previous encounter. Though it is unlikely that he will continue for full 90 minutes, one can expect him to disrupt Mumbai’s tempo and create spaces for himself and his teammates.
Shaker will be tactful with his employment of the forward. More so, since the likes of Ibrahim Bayesh and Abdul Kadhim seem to have rediscovered their scoring form. If he is allowed to operate freely, he is easily capable of punishing the Indian club once again.
Did You Know?
- Mumbai City’s 6-0 loss to Al-Shabab is the heaviest defeat for any Indian club in the competition.
- Air Force Club of Iraq are a three-time AFC Cup winners.
- Mumbai City have the highest points tally (4) for any Indian club in the AFC Champions League.
The match will be played at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The AFC Champions League 2022 will be telecast on the Star Sports 3 in India. Live streaming will also be available on the Disney+ Hotstar app & website as well as on JIO TV.