Lalengmawia opined that the Islanders did not do well as a team against Hyderabad FC in their previous game.

The Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season is up and running and Wednesday will stage a blockbuster clash between last season’s finalists ATK Mohun Bagan and Mumbai City. The Islanders, under Des Buckingham started their season in bright fashion with a win over FC Goa, but were handed a defeat in their second game against Hyderabad FC.

The defending champions will be looking to bounce back in no time, with another win over the Mariners. Ahead of the clash, midfielder Lalengmawia and head coach Buckingham spoke to the media.

Thoughts on ATK Mohun Bagan 

The Mariners have changed their identity and approach this season. They were a defensive team last season and have now turned into a highly attack-minded side. Des Buckingham shared his thoughts on how his side are preparing for this clash. 

“We’ve watched their first couple of games and they’ve improved extremely well from last season. It was exciting to watch them – especially their attacking play. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the likes of Roy Krishna and others. It’s not so much about them, it’s making sure about what we do and what we want.” he explained.

Gameplay

The Islanders displayed high-pressing football in their opening fixtures. When asked if Mumbai City will continue to play in the same way, moving forward Buckingham said that their gameplan will be different against every team.

“We’ll have a different gameplay for every opponent. How we position and how we want to work will differ from team-to-team,” he replied.

Reflections from last game

Mumbai City started their last match on the front foot, scored the first goal and dominated for a major part of the first half. However ultimately, they ended up on the losing side at the full-time whistle. 

“I thought it was a good game against a very good Hyderabad FC. The difference in those type of games is that you take toll of key moments. We had some very good key moments when it was 1-1, which we didn’t take advantage of and that’s what decides games at this level,” Des Buckingham said.

He further added, “We won’t get carried away and we’re at the same place this club was this time last season after two games. But, it’s important that we look more effective in the final third.”

Team News

The English tactician also gave an update on the availability of his squad going into the big match. “We’re actually in a better space than we were in the last one (against Hyderabad FC). Mandar Rao Dessai is back and available for selection. Rowllin Borges is also fully fit and everyone else is okay – except Vignesh who’s out for a few weeks,” he signed off.

Lalengmawia’s Comments

On playing for Mumbai City FC

The wonder-kid made a big move to Mumbai City from NorthEast United this summer. He spoke about the new challenge of playing for the Islanders.

“It’s a new challenge for me playing for a new club, especially that being Mumbai City, who want to keep the title. It’s a big challenge for everyone here. We won the first match and lost the second one, but it’s normal in football. What is more important is how we make the comeback for the second win,” he asserted.

Improvements from last match 

Apuia felt that Mumbai City did not play well as a team against Hyderabad FC. He added that they are looking to improving in every area ahead of the next match.

“In the last match we did not play well as a team. We’re working on where we can improve in attacking and defending. Hopefully, we can win the next match,” he said.

Playing alongside Ahmed Jahouh

The youngster also shared his thoughts on playing alongside one of the league’s best midfielders in Ahmed Jahouh.

“I learn a lot from him and I hope we have a good partnership with him throughout the season. His confidence and calmness on the ball it makes it easier to play,” the Indian international revealed.

Adapting to new style

When quizzed about on how he is trying to adapt to the new style of play at Mumbai, the 21-year-old said that it’s part of life and football.

“It’s a little bit difficult to me, as I was with the national team and then got injured while I was with the U-23 team. I couldn’t have a lot of time with the club, but it’s a part of our life. So, I need to adapt anyway. The style of play is different from where I’ve played, but I think it’s a perfect fit for me. I don’t feel it’s a difficult task for me because the way I want to play and the coach wants me to play is not very different,” he explained.

Apuia concluded by speaking about his experience of playing under Des Buckingham and about his individual goals this season. “Working with Des is a great opportunity. I’ve improved a lot working with these players at MCFC. My individual aim would be to win the ISL trophy and try to have more assists and contribute more for the club,” he signed off.

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