The Islanders lost their opening fixture 1-0 after the sending off of Ahmed Jahouh left them a man down in the second half.
The Sergio Lobera-era at Mumbai City FC has begun disappointingly. The Islanders lost to Gerard Nus’ inspired NorthEast United1-0 after the sending off of Ahmed Jahouh in the first half. Kwesi Appiah scored the only goal of the match, after Rowlin Borges handled the ball in the box. It was an uncharacteristic performance from the Islanders, as mistakes were made both on and off the pitch.
We take a look at the five mistakes that cost Mumbai City FC the game and three points:
5. Sergio Lobera benching his trusted centre-back Mourtada Fall
On any other day, Mourtada Fall would be Mumbai City FC’s first-choice to play as a centre-back. However, Sergio Lobera decided not to risk his 32-year-old Senegalese defender for the game. Fall could not participate in most of the training sessions and hence was not ready for the game as per the Spaniard. However, he’s a veteran defender and should have played when there were no other options available.
4. Mumbai City starting Hernan Santana as a centre-back
Sergio Lobera decided to play Hernan Santana as the centre-back due to Fall not being ready for the game. But, the Islanders could’ve used their other young centre-backs in Mehtab Singh and Valpuia Hmingthanmawia as natural alternatives. Yet, Santana, naturally a midfielder, was played as a makeshift defender.
Mumbai were not troubled much at the back throughout the game. However, whenever NorthEast attacked, Mumbai missing a centre-back was evident.
3. Ahmed Jahouh’s red card
Ahmed Jahouh is one of the most significant acquisitions of Mumbai City this season. He, like Fall, is a player Sergio Lobera trusts and shifted base along with the Spanish coach. Jahouh dictated the game for the Islanders pretty well in the first half until that silly mistake.
Mumbai were looking to raise the tempo of the game in the final minutes of the first half and the urgency to have the ball made Jahouh make a dangerous challenge from behind on Khassa Camara. The Moroccan midfielder was shown the red card and he left his team a man down for the rest of the match.
2. Sergio Lobera playing both his strikers
Sergio Lobera played both his marquee signings Adam le Fondre and Bartholomew Ogbeche against NorthEast. It was a rare sight for a Lobera side to have two forwards playing from the start. When a coach, whose side have scored the most goals in the Indian Super League, decides to start both his forwards together, expectations sky-rocket. However, Lobera’s men failed to register a single shot on target.
Moreover, the move was a surprising departure from his highly-successful method of using a single focal point in attack and leaving another strong option on the bench. It’s a philosophy that worked wonders for the Spaniard in his three years at FC Goa. Thus, for him to move away from it in his first game in-charge at a new club was uncalled for.
1. Adam le Fondre starting on the wing
Mumbai City started the game with Ogbeche as the lead striker. He was flanked by Raynier on the left and Le Fondre on the right, with Hugo Boumous playing as the No.10. Le Fondre has played in a central role throughout his career. He didn’t look sharp and was out of position throughout the game. Both him and Raynier, at times, looked clueless about their roles and Mumbai’s attack was thus not troubling the Highlanders’ backline much.
While the full-backs Mohamad Rakip and Mandar Rao Dessai looked dangerous in the opposition half, the same could not be said for Mumbai’s wingers.