The Islanders are flying high in the table while the Kolkata outfit have struggled for consistency in results and performances.
Mumbai City FC are on a roll after their demolition at the hands of FC Goa. The loss at the hands of Sergio Lobera’s men has awakened the Mumbai City FC and now they are on a run of three consecutive wins in the Indian Super League. The latest win was the sweetest as the Islanders defeated the high-flying Highlanders at their own backyard.
ATK, on the other hand, have had a nervy start to their campaign which has been a roller coaster ride so far. Injuries to key players have added to their worries. The two teams’ coaches met the media for the pre match press conference.
Jorge Costa (Mumbai City)
After winning against the defending champions and the high flying NorthEast United both away, Jorge Costa is a relieved man. He said, “We have won the last three games. So I’m happy. I’m happy not with the quality but with the spirit we played these games. I’m very happy with the players because the spirit with which they played is amazing.”
Costa has nothing but respect for the opposition team. He knows that they are a tough side to breakdown and he is ready for the challenge. “(ATK) is a very good team, a very very good team. They have very good players with a very good coach with lots of experience.”
Costa added, “So we will not expect an easy game tomorrow. It’s true that their position in the league is not what they expected in the beginning. There are things that I can control, and that is my players. I will make sure that we are ready for the game to fight for the three points and give the fans a good game.”
After getting humbled at the Fatorda, Mumbai seems to have gotten their mojo back. But to Costa, nothing has changed. “Nothing, nothing has been changed. This is the question that I answered more than ten times.”
He also explained, “If you remember after the Goa game I explained – We had a wonderful first half, we had a lot of opportunities to score, but we couldn’t. I was not happy after the game. We lost and we gave up. So the FC Goa game is something that we can’t forget but something we will put there. If we don’t count the Goa game, then this is our team – playing good and fighting till the end. It’s important in football and in life. Our team is all that you can see forgetting the Goa game.”
Steve Coppell (ATK)
Steve relishes the challenge of having to come to Mumbai and play against them. The Englishman is ready for the challenge. “Mumbai are a strong team. Obviously, they had a little bit of hiccups against Goa but we know that they are very well organised team and it’s a challenge for us to come here as an away team and try and break the defence down. It is a challenge we relish.”
Starting slowly and then improving considerably in the latter half of the season has been the trend for many teams in ISL. Coppell hopes it stays that way after a disappointing start to the campaign.
“I hope it continues to this season as well. We get stronger. It’s the concept of trying to put cross and reach the good results. These five games are very very important. We need a strong finish before Christmas,” Coppell opined.
Injuries have been a problem for the team from Kolkata. After Uche’s injury, his replacement Alfaro has gone down due to an Achilles condition. Coppell rued, “We have a change in our forward line. We got Kalu Uche’s replacement, Alfaro. Alfaro has got a problem with his Achilles. It seems to be a serious problem, and so he has taken medical advice. He has had his MRI scans, and now we are waiting for some expert opinions.”
Sunil Chhetri’s comments of giving the AFC Cup quota to the teams winning the league format rather than to the one winning the tournament has not gone well with many. But Coppell is someone who somewhat agrees with what the Indian national captain said.
“I think the rules are defined at the start of the season, and I do feel there should be a trophy for the winners of the league. If you win the league, you should be acknowledged. But the tournament has the best four teams playing the playoffs and that is more significant at the moment. Maybe in the future evaluations, they change. The league questions itself and there are ways to improve.”
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No injury concerns for the team from Mumbai.
Kalu Uche’s replacement Emiliano Alfaro is injured and is out for a long indefinite time. ATK also has some players missing for a long time in Prabir Das, Arnab Mondal and Sheik Faiaz
Mumbai City FC
Amrinder (GK), Subhasish, Milan, Goian, Souvik Chakraborty, Sehnaj, Paulo Machado, Joyner, Modou Sougou, Raphael, Arnold.
Arindam, Khongjee, Bikey, Johnson, Ricky, Everton, Pronay, Gerson, Komal, Lanzarote and Balwant
Did You Know?
- Both Mumbai and ATK have four wins against each other.
- In four games of the season 2016-17 between the two sides, three players were sent off.
- Mumbai City are yet to concede after the FC Goa game.
The match will take place on Saturday at 7:30 PM, at the Mumbai Football Arena. On television, the match will be live on Star Sports. It will also be streamed on Hotstar and Jio TV.