The Islanders have put together an interesting squad this season.
After having endured consecutive disappointing seasons and then climbing to the pinnacle, Mumbai City’s wave descended into a trough as they finished in the seventh position last term. Having had an inspirational coach in Alexandre Guimaraes at the helm had ensured that fans had thronged the stadium and shown their support for the Islanders and the new team continues to offer hope for the newly-christened West Coast Brigade.
The biggest positive going forward this season is that they have retained some of the well-known faces and made sure that the team did not lose familiarity, while bringing in massive talent, both foreign and Indian for new head coach Jorge Costa to lead.
Last Season’s Performance
Last season’s performances had a huge range; from being abysmal to being spectacular football performances that even the English might envy. But, the highlight of the campaign was the emergence of new players and faces who would one day star for India.
Abhinas Ruidas and Davinder Singh came of age and Prajal Bhumij, the diminutive teenage striker rattled the defences with his mesmerizing speed and trickery.
Mumbai City went to a new location this season as they travelled to Thailand and surprised their fans as they returned home unscathed with no losses. They took on four Thai sides; Chiangmai FC, Maejo United, Lampang FC, and Bangkok United.
Chiangmai were the only side to secure a draw against Mumbai City, while Bangkok United were their toughest opponents, whom they downed 3-2
Jorge Costa has been given the reins this season at the Islanders (Courtesy: Mumbai City FC)
When Manchester United coach, Jose Mourinho describes someone as being among the best players to have played under him, you know he means business. Jorge Costa had a 16-year-long playing career which was capped off with a Champions League winner’s medal for Porto back in 2003-04 and then ventured into coaching.
His teammates, Andres Villas-Boas and Nuno Espirito Santos are doing wonders as managers and Costa will most likely bring his robust and direct playing style to Mumbai City this season.
Ins: Mumbai City manager Watson Fernandes overhauled the side before Costa arrived. The star Indian signing for the Islanders was the India U-23 captain Subhashish Bose who was one of the core players in the Bengaluru FC defence last season.
They have bolstered their leaky defence by bringing back Anwar Ali who had a rock-solid partnership with Lucian Goian in their table-topping campaign of two years ago. They have also roped in Shouvik Ghosh and Souvik Chakraborty from Jamshedpur FC, where they had formed a formidable partnership for then Men of Steel tactician Steve Coppell.
They have also added Bikramjeet Singh and Marko Kilsura who have had impressive outings for champions Chennaiyin FC and Uzbeki side Buxoro FC respectively. Both these players have the ability to play varied roles in defence and as defensive midfielders, if the need arises.
The midfield of any team is pivotal to how the team performs and their gameplay is defined by the men in the middle. The addition of local boy Raynier Fernandes from Mohun Bagan brings in the local flavour alongside a strong group of Indian talents like, Mohammed Rafique, Milan Singh, Bipin Singh and Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, who will look to establish themselves as mainstays in both Mumbai and India squads.
The foreigners to complement these young midfielders carry huge amount of experience on their shoulders with Mattias Mirabaje having played for Delhi Dynamos last season and Paulo Machado who arrives from Aves in Portugal, before which he turned out regularly for Croatian powerhouse Dynamo Zagreb.
The attacking department looks to strike fear in opposition hearts as the foreign trio of Brazilian Raphael Bastos, Modou Sougou from Senegal and Congolese Arnold Issoko are joined by highly-rated Indian Alen Deory, whom India head cooach Stephen Constantine had lauded while he featured for the U-23 side.
They have also signed India’s FIFA U-17 World Cup squad member Anwar Ali who has been loaned back to the Indian Arrows squad for continued development and game-time.
Outs: The whole of the foreign contingent with the exception of club captain Goian have left the team, with Everton Santos and Gerson Vieira joining ATK. Marcio Rosario has joined Persipura in Jakarta, while the rest of the foreigners are still without clubs at the time of writing.
Long-throw specialist Raju Gaikwad joined Jamshedpur FC and midfield talent Zakeer Mundampara joined his home state club Kerala Blasters. Aiborlang Khongjee and Balwant Singh joined ATK too, alongside their foreign teammates and Lalchwankima has joined Abhinas Ruidas at Mohun Bagan.
Amrinder Singh, Shouvik Ghosh, Marko Klisura, Anwar Ali, Milan Singh, Arnold Issoko, Md Rafique, Matias Mirabaje, Raynier Fernandes, Sanju Pradhan, Subhasish Bose, Rafael Bastos, Pranjal Bhumij, Lucian Goian, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Ravi Kumar, Souvik Chakrabarti, Alen Deory, Sehnaj Singh, Modou Sougou, Bipin Singh, Kunal Sawant, Davinder Singh, Bikramjit Singh, Paulo Machado.
Formation & Tactics
Having studied his playing style at the various clubs Costa has headed, it is visible that he prefers a 4-3-3 formation.
Mumbai City FC predicted lineup in ISL Season 5
We may well see a backline consisting of captain Goian alongside Anwar Ali, flanked by Souvik Chakraborty on the right and Subhashish on the left. The backline will be guarded by Sehnaj Singh in a defensive role and a double pivot of Mirabaje and Machado will ply their trade in attacking roles.
The striking team in a 4-3-3 will be led by Rafael Bastos, with Modou Sougou and Sanju Pradhan joining in from the flanks.
The team is a very well-composed squad and would look to build on a strong midfield presence to win games. The attacking edge given by the strikers who have had very reliable track records suggests that goals will be aplenty.
Having retained Goian, it will be a wonderful opportunity to build on his form from last season and snuff out attacks.
Unfamiliarity with teammates may play a part in forming a crucial weakness. Mumbai’s squad was assembled very late and Costa joined in even later, This may prompt a sense of unease in their playing style.
Mumbai City FC’s first phase fixtures for ISL Season 5
Players To Watch
Given enough playing time, Pranjal Bhumij will shine through and will show why he was so highly-rated by Guimaraes and supposedly received some interest from Scotland too.
Pranjal is one of the few fearless players who go forward in attack, even if he is facing top dogs in defence and delivers brilliant high-power shots.
Amrinder has been a standout goalkeeper for many seasons now and was rightly awarded a huge contract by Mumbai City last season, retaining him for two more years. He is currently in his best form and looks keen to go upwards, as he challenges Gurpreet Singh Sandhu for the title of India’s best custodian.
If India’s SAFF Cup campaign is anything to go by, Bose is a magician at left-back. His attacking runs forward and quick pace have made him a mainstay in Constantine’s setup. Although, he did not train with the team in pre-season, he is capable of making an instant impact when slotted into his natural position.
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What To Expect?
Mumbai City will look to finish in the top three this season and reach their maiden final. With the depth in the squad that they carry along with the talent, it is easy to envisage that the internal competition for places will bear good results.