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Why Mumbai City FC will miss Yoell van Nieff in ISL final

Published at :May 3, 2024 at 12:00 PM
Modified at :May 3, 2024 at 12:00 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Atawaris Warsi

Yoell van Nieff stepped perfectly into Ahmed Jahouh’s shoes at Mumbai City FC.

Mumbai City FC find themselves in a bittersweet situation. They’ve battled their way to the ISL 2023-24 final, but a controversial yellow card to midfielder Yoell van Nieff in the second leg of the semi-finals throws a wrench into their plans.

Yoell van Nieff’s absence is a significant blow for Mumbai. The 30-year-old Dutchman has been a revelation in his debut ISL season, seamlessly filling the void left by midfield maestro Ahmed Jahouh. Stepping into such a crucial role, especially in a new league and continent, was a daunting task. Yet, Nieff adapted quickly, becoming a vital cog in Mumbai’s midfield machinery.

His impact is undeniable. Statistics speak volumes – 723 successful passes at an impressive 83% accuracy, averaging 45 passes per game. He’s also a defensive force, winning duels, making interceptions, and completing recoveries. But numbers only tell part of the story. Nieff’s expertise lies in dictating the game’s tempo and his pinpoint set-piece delivery. These qualities have woven him into the fabric of Mumbai’s midfield.

Replacing him will be a challenge for manager Petr Kratky. While Mumbai boast a decent bench with Jayesh Rane, Alberto Noguera, and Vinit Rai, none offer the unique combination of both offensive and defensive prowess that Yoell van Nieff brings to the table. Rane and Nogeura are creative masters but they are defensively not so adept as compared to the Dutch midfielder. He’s a rare player who can control the flow of the game while contributing significantly on both ends of the pitch.

The upcoming final against Mohun Bagan at the intimidating Salt Lake Stadium becomes even tougher for Mumbai City FC without van Nieff’s presence. Coach Kratky will have to find a way to plug the gap and devise a new strategy that compensates for the Dutchman’s absence. Can the Islanders overcome this hurdle and lift the ISL trophy? Only time will tell, but one thing’s certain – they’ll have to dig deep and play with all their heart to achieve it.

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