Both the teams will be coming into this game on the back of a win.

Defending champions Mumbai City FC will be taking on Odisha FC on Sunday, at the Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda. This edition of the Indian Super League hasn’t been great for either side. On one hand, Mumbai City FC made a brilliant start to the campaign, but somehow lost ground. There came a time when the team was six matches without a win! Des Buckingham will be keen to win tomorrow’s fixture and get his team a step closer to fixating their position in the playoffs. They are currently sixth-placed in the table.

Meanwhile, Odisha FC too, have had a tough season so far. A few weeks back, they saw head coach Kiko Ramirez get sacked. The charge is now with Ramirez’s assistant, the interim manager, Kino Sanchez. Under his tutelage, Odisha’s performance has improved. With 21 points, Odisha are just below Mumbai City in the seventh position.

Here’s what the head coaches Des Buckingham and Kino Sanchez had to say in the pre-match press conference.

Mumbai City FC coach Des Buckingham

Building on last win

Des Buckingham: I think just what we’ve continually done. I mean you referred to a winless run. I would talk around the fact that even in that winless run, we were still picking up results. We picked up four draws and actually played some really good football. If we stuck true to our style, if we stuck true to what we want to do, we would certainly get the results; which is what we had in the last couple of games. Like I said, we’re now a team that is unbeaten in three and we spoke about wanting to create momentum going into the back half of the season. We’re in a good position to kick on and do that. “

Thoughts on youngsters

Des Buckingham: Yes, I think that’s the one thing. When you look outside; I mean we have good senior players. But, when you actually look across our team, we have a lot of young players. Young (Mohammad) Nawaz in goal. Amey (Ranawade) at right-back. Vignesh (Dakshinamurthy) played a lot at left-back. Young Mehtab (Singh) has come in at centre-back. Apuia (Lalengmawia) has played every game for us. Vikram (Pratap Singh) has had a huge impact for us, when he’s either started or come on. Then we’ve got young Gurkirat (Singh) who’s also come in.

So, we’ve got a lot of young players that have had a huge impact on getting us to where we are right now. We’ve got a lot more that haven’t yet featured. But, they’re surrounded by very good senior professionals, both Indian and foreign. It’s important that we get that balance right because we know the skill-set that they have. It’s an exciting group to work with. I’ve said all along,  I want the best players here; the best Indian players, young or old. We’ve certainly got a good bulk of those here now. We’re obviously trying to add to that and that was one of the reasons we brought in the players we have in the January transfer window. “

Odisha FC coach Kino Sanchez

Thoughts on game

Kino Sanchez: We have a tight schedule, as we play again in the next two days. It’s important for both the teams as we want to be in the semi-finals. But, we have five games left, so we definitely have to perform well.

Adapting to new style 

Kino Sanchez: We didn’t have an adequate pre-season. We have matches after matches. But, we always try to bring what we think on the table. Players are also helping us by bringing their ideas. We are happy about the way they are performing.

Odisha FC star Javi Hernandez, who has scored and assisted five goals and assisted each, also attended the pres conference and answered some questions.

Experience playing under Kino Sanchez

Javi Hernandez: I feel very comfortable. I sometimes complain about attacks, but he always knows my best position. We had some problems with our attackers in the last few weeks, but I am there to give my 100% for the team.

Partnership with Jonathas Jesus

Javi Hernandez: He is a great player and he has played top games before. So, it’s easy to combine with him. I enjoy playing with him and I hope he helps us reach the playoffs.

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