The Islanders are perfect at home while the Bengal Tigers are in need of a first win of the season.
Mumbai City FC host champions ATK in a match which could either see Mumbai go into the top four, if they win, or would be the first win for the Teddy Sheringham managed ATK. Both the side’s coaches met media in the pre-match press conference and talked about what they expect in such an important fixture.
Alexandre Guimaraes is one of the few coaches to come back to India after last season. When asked what has been different for him this season the Costa Rican answered, “We have different kind of players compared to last season. So, we have to attack considering the situations of the game. The way we are playing this season has to be different from the way we played last season and that is because of the characteristics of the players.”
He also added, “This is not even 50% of the team that we had last season. Also, we didn’t talk about that match (playoff against ATK) because we are different from the last season, they are different and so is the situation. We have to be at our best to win tomorrow.”
Last season ATK outperformed Mumbai in the semifinals. Guimaraes explained what what went wrong for his team and what is different now. “The approach has changed completely. We have more time to recover the players. We have more time to practice than the last season.”
He coninued, “Our second game here against ATK last season, we didn’t have much time to practice plan B and so we had to stick with what we did the whole season. Now, there is a good amount of time for all the teams. I think you can see some improvement as local players have practised more.”
Balwant Singh has started games either as a striker or as a winger. He is also the team’s top scorer and won the penalty which Achille Emana eventually converted to win Mumbai three points against Chennaiyin last Sunday. About his premier Guimaraes said, “He was our first pick in the draft. He has characteristics that he can play upfront, on the sides and he likes to compete very much as he is showing. We are glad to have him and we are taking care of him because for us he is very important.”
Nascimento Rozario wasn’t fit for the previous game but tomorrow he will be available for selection the coach informed.
Four games, zero wins, that’s not how a champion team starts their new campaign. ATK coach Teddy Sheringham concurred that his team is under pressure and desperate to perform. “We haven’t won any game as of yet and that gives us a little bit of pressure. We have our own problems, something we have to rectify. We worked hard on that this week and the previous week. It is something that we’ve been working on to make it alright.”
Mumbai have stayed true to themselves. No matter how difficult the away games turn out to be, they simply dominate teams at home. This season too, they have defeated the high scoring FC Goa and Chennaiyin FC in the two games played at THE Mumbai Football Arena and Sheringham knows what his team is up against.
“Mumbai is a very strong team. They have got lots of quality while going forward, are very organised and are very strong. We have to look out for their qualities. We know they have got quality while going forward and it is something that we have to be ready for.”
It has been a very unusual and uncharacteristic start for the two-time champions.They are yet to win any game in the league and the club’s management pressurizing the coach is something very understandable. But, the Englishman denied that there has been any pressure on him from the owners.
He clarified, “We talk after every game. The management above me have been very supportive. They have seen the way we have attacked games. We could have won games with a little bit of luck. They are not lacking any confidence in any manner.”
Although, they are struggling to score goals, ATK signed Ryan Taylor, a defender, to replace the sidelined winger Carl Baker. While justifying his team’s decision to sign his compatriot the Bengal Tigers tactician said, “He is a very similar player like Carl Baker. Carl Baker goes forward, plays wide and comes forward to score goals and we missed him in the first few games along with Robbie.”
“He is our marquee player. You cannot miss two players like that. Ryan is a similar player, plays wide right and has a good delivery. He has good experience and he should be a very good signing for us. Hopefully, he fits into Indian football very very quickly.”
Bipin Singh has been the pick of the players for ATK in this woeful season and Sheringham sees him as an outstanding talent. “It (Bipin Singh’s goal) surprised us all as well. He has been an outstanding talent and it has been a joy working with him. He wants to get better and he is only a young lad. We have to make sure he develops this season.”
Ashley Westwood is a familiar name to Indian football fans. He has been the manager of Bengaluru FC. He is now the Technical Director of ATK. When questioned how he has been helping Sheringham in these difficult times he said, “He (Westwood) has been very helpful. His knowledge and experience of Indian football have been valuable. At times like these, it is always good to have someone to help. We speak about what he wants, what I can do and we try to come up with different ideas. It is always nice to have other people’s views.”