The Mumbai City FC boss revealed that his team knew ATK Mohun Bagan’s plans ahead of the game.
Mumbai City FC defeated ATK Mohun Bagan (ATKMB) 2-1 to secure a five-point lead at the top of the points table. It was a very cagey encounter, with Bartholomew Ogbeche scoring the only goal of the game in the 69th minute. The Islanders held the upper hand in the first half, but couldn’t break down Antonio Lopez Habas’ men. ATKMB struck back after halftime by bringing on the duo of Prabir Das and Pronay Halder on the field. However, Hugo Boumous led a decisive counter-attack and eventually assisted Ogbeche’s. Sergio Lobera addressed several facets of the game in his post-match media interaction.
Difficulty in breaking down defensively compact side
Mumbai completely controlled the proceedings in the first half. However, ATKMB’s well-organized backline made it difficult for them to find a way past Arindam Bhattacharya. Lobera had indicated previously that it is easier to play against sides that adopt a similar style of play as them. However, tonight’s opposition put forth a different challenge. “We knew the plans of ATK Mohun Bagan and in the last few days, we worked to improve our level against a very good defensive team. I am very happy with the performance of my team, especially in the first half. I think we created chances, we had good opportunities and I am very happy with the performance of my team,” the head coach said.
Concerned about ATK Mohun Bagan’s goalscoring ability in second half?
ATK Mohun Bagan have scored seven out of their 10 goals this season in the second half. With the game deadlocked at 0-0 at half-time, Lobera was asked whether he was concerned that Habas’ men will draw first blood. “I am not concerned, because it’s not only about the stats. It’s about the situation of the game. Every game is different and we know ATK Mohun Bagan is a very dangerous team. They have a very good striker. It’s not only about the second half. I think our balance today, offensive and defensive was very well. I am very happy because the work of the team defensively was very good,” the Spaniard responded.
Bartholomew Ogbeche’s immediate substitution after his goal
Adam Le Fondre replaced Bartholomew Ogbeche immediately after the latter scored the winner. Infact, the call for Ogbeche’s substation was already up moments before he struck the ball into the back of the net. Reflecting on the rationale behind the change, the tactician stated, “I think we have very good players coming from the bench. Some players obviously were tired. We need to pressure the opponent team because the centre-backs put very easy long-balls. I think it’s good, this substitution. I am very happy with the attitude coming from the bench.”
Mourtada Fall’s defensive performance
Mourtada Fall guarded the backline like an absolute rock against ATKMB. He was unafraid to put his body on the line to deflect away shots and was crucial in Mumbai’s victory. Asked to comment on the Senegalese’s outing, Lobera expressed, “I am happy, but not only about the goalkeeper, the defensive line, I think all team were very good. I am very happy because it’s not easy not to concede goals against a very good team, with a very good striker. I am very happy with the performance of my team in defence.”
Importance of defeating the second- team in the table
Mumbai City are on an nine-match unbeaten streak. They have collected eight victories in 10 games and are comfortably placed at the top of the table with 25 points. This clash had immense significance considering that ATKMB could have gained a one-point lead over the Islanders through a win. However, the metropolis club’s relentless pursuit for the AFC Champions League spot continues.
Pondering on the result and the significance it carries for the season ahead, Lobera said, “It’s important, but as I told you before the game, it’s not crucial. It’s an important victory, three very important points for us. But, we are only half of the season. We need to play 10 games more and we need to know in this league, in a short time, all is possible to change. Because we are playing three games in seven days or nine days. We need to keep our performance, we need to continue improving. We need to work a lot because we are only at the half of the season.
“I am very happy with my squad. I told you before the start of the season, it’s a very special season with very special circumstances. We need to adapt quickly in different scenarios. But, obviously, my wishes and our fans are for our team to try and win the trophy and we are working if it is possible to achieve this,” the head coach signed off.