Both teams are winless in at least their past two matches heading into this fixture.
After going winless in three of their last four matches and losing three in the process, Odisha FC will want to get back on track when they play defending champions and league leaders, Mumbai City next. The Juggernauts started bright with massive wins over Bengaluru FC and SC East Bengal. However, Odisha’s form have taken a dip since then. Kiko Sanchez’s side have lost four times and won only one in their last six matches. Their opponents Mumbai City FC are also winless in their last two games. Des Buckingham’s side still find themselves at the top, but their lead is dwindling with each game.
The Islanders are currently a point clear at the top, but Kerala Blasters can reach/overtake them with a win over FC Goa. Odisha FC are seventh in the standings with 10 points from eight games. Mumbai City have 16 from the same number of games.
Ahead of the match, Mumbai City FC and Odisha coaches Kino Sanchez and Des Buckingham addressed the media and shared their thoughts on the upcoming clash.
Thoughts on Mumbai City FC
Odisha FC assistant coach Kiko Ramirez is aware of Des Buckingham’s strengths, but warns his side will be ready to tackle that.
“They are leading the table. Mumbai are a strong team that have good players. They know the style of football they play. But we have analysed them and know some points which will help us in the match,” asserted the Spaniard.
Frequent defensive lapses at the back
Odisha FC have conceded 20 goals this season, most by any team so far in ISL 2021-22. Their last fixture saw the Juggernauts losing 6-1 to Hyderabad, with four of those six goals coming in the second half. Kino assured that they are working on reducing their defensive frailties.
“We are aware of it,” said the OFC coach, who is also the head of football development at the club, “we are training to solve these situations. But of course, there have been some individual mistakes that have cost us. We can’t blame them because it’s the coaches first. We are sure we are going to make it.”
Mumbai City FC
High-scoring fixtures against Odisha FC
As many as they have conceded, Odisha FC have also scored 14 goals already in eight matches, the four-highest in the league this season. The Juggernauts have also been involved in plenty of high-scoring fixtures in ISL 2021-22. Against SC East Bengal, they edged a 10-goal fixture. The 1-6 loss to Hyderabad witnessed seven goals, while they have also played two four-goal matches.
Buckingham was asked if he’s worried about the high-scoring fixture. The Mumbai City boss quipped that if its a high-scoring game, he would want his team to be on the right end.
“If it is, I’d like to think it would be on our side, we’re going to continue to try to attack them and we’ve scored the most goals in the league.,” pointed out the Englishman. “That’s something we want to continue doing. We want to continue to attack and change and play exciting football. But we also need to make sure that defensively we’re better set up.”
If club will make any new additions in January
Des Buckingham asserted that he is happy with the squad at his disposal and the club will only look for a new addition if it needed to. Hde also quashed any rumours flying around involving the club and its players.
“The transfer window is open and I’ve already seen rumors flying around. I’ve said on a conference call that we had two or three days ago that I’m very happy with the squad that we have,” reminded Buckingham. “So there’s no plans for us right now to bring anybody in, unless we need to. I’m very happy with what we have here.”
Thoughts on Odisha FC
The Mumbai City boss is expecting a tough game against “a well organised” and “good” Odisha FC team. He also pointed out the other results and said that irrespective of their positions at the table, teams have beaten higher-ranked teams already this season.
“I’m expecting another tough and hard game against a well organized and good Odisha team with good players,” said Des Buckingham. “I think this league this year in particular, it’s seen that any team is capable of beating any team, regardless of the position that they are in the league, or maybe based on the previous results that have come before.
“But the focus this week has been very much on us. We’ve had four days on the training field. And the focus will be on how we attack and wanting to continue to score more goals than anybody else in the league and also making sure we were fine out in the defence and make sure that we don’t give chances as well, as easily as we have done in the previous two games.”
Mourtada Fall on partnership with Ahmed Jahouh
With 15 goals to his name, the Senegalese centre-back is the highest-scoring defender in ISL history. Two of those 15 goals have come this season. Interestingly, both were assisted by Ahmed Jahouh who leads the assist chart with five assists to his name.
“We know each other (Ahmed Jahouh). But in set-pieces, you are always working here like this, always working in training. How to help the team to score from free-kicks is the key. Sometimes you win the game only for one set-piece, which makes the difference,” quipped the defender.
“So we need good timing. Good delivery. Also, Jahough is a good player. They deliver inside the box, but I have to make sure that I don’t be offside. And after this, if you receive a good ball and are in a good position, the job is to finish well. So that’s why I am always trying to finish.”
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