The Mumbai City coach also spoke on the club’s aspirations with the current squad.

Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City will begin their Durand Cup 2022 campaign against the Indian Navy on August 17. The Islanders come into the tournament on the back of a three-week pre-season camp in Dubai. Coach Des Buckingham is optimistic about his team’s performance and the expectations from the fans.

The former ISL champions will field their main team at the 2022 Durand Cup and are undoubtedly one of the favorites to win the title this year. The expectations from the fans are expectedly high.

Ahead of the match, head coach Des Buckingham and defender Rahul Bheke addressed the media. Here’s what they had to say:

Thoughts on the Durand Cup

The head coach began by sharing his thoughts on the Durand Cup. He said that Mumbai City will go all out to win the championship this season.

“For us as a club, we want to continue from where we left off in the ACL last season. It’s very much important to maintain the same intent going forward. For me, it’s important to continue being successful on the pitch.

“I don’t want to disrespect the tournament by playing it as a preparatory tournament because it’s the oldest tournament in Asia. So, we just have to focus on our first game,” he asserted.

Assessment of the current squad

Des Buckingham was quizzed about his thoughts on his current squad following the new additions. He said that he’s very happy with the six changes that the club have made during the transfer window.

“I’m very happy with the squad that we have. We have made only six changes to our squad from the ACL. We have managed to retain a big part of our squad and I’m very happy with the players,” he replied.

Pre-season preparations

When asked about his side’s pre-season preparations, Des Buckingham mentioned that his side played a few friendlies with other clubs in Dubai. He also said that the three-week camp was really beneficial for the players.

“We had a really good three-week pre-season camp in Dubai before we came to Kolkata. It was a good opportunity for all of us to prepare and I think we have got ourselves in the best position possible. We played a few games in Dubai which gave the players time to settle in,” he answered.

Gurkirat Singh’s performance

Young Islander Gurkirat Singh was on fire for India at the SAFF U-20 Championship a few weeks ago. The forward won the Golden Boot by scoring eight goals. The head coach was all praise for his young forward and said that the presence of experienced players in the team will help him get better.

“I think the way he performed was really nice to see. We are really proud of the way he represented his country. He’s a young player and will surely get chances this season as well. He is surrounded by good players who will help him grow,” he explained.

Assessment of Kolkata giants

Mumbai City have been grouped alongside the Kolkata giants ATK Mohun Bagan and East Bengal in the Durand Cup. Des Buckingham shared his views on his assessment of their opponents and said that both teams have assembled good squads.

“They’re two wonderful clubs. I’ve heard about the crowds that turn up and I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve had good games against ATK Mohun Bagan and even East Bengal are looking good. The kind of recruitment they’ve made with Stephen Constantine as their head coach. I’m really looking forward to all out four games,”

Rahul Bheke’s comment

Role in the team

Rahul Bheke was asked about his role in the team. He said that as a senior he always wants to help his young teammates in every possible way both on and off the pitch.

“We had a great ACL campaign and as a senior I look forward to having a good season with the team. I want to guide and help the juniors both on and off the pitch,” he replied.

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