The Red and Gold Brigade are yet to win this season.

SC East Bengal showed fight and grit against Hyderabad FC, but remain winless heading into the clash against defending champions Mumbai City. The Red and Gold brigade have played nine games this season, but are yet to win. The winless run extends to 13 matches across the last two seasons. Having parted ways with Manolo Diaz, SC East Bengal have appointed Mario Rivera, as their next head coach. But they head into the match with interim coach Renedy Singh leading the charge. Similarly, Des Buckingham’s side are also winless in their last three matches. The Islanders conceded 10 goals in those three matches.

Their defensive frailties has Buckingham worried ahead of the next game. It is the same problem that has bothered SC East Bengal this season. Coach Des Buckingham and Renedy Singh spoke at the pre-match press conference before the match and here’s what they said:

Mumbai City FC

Decision behind signing Vinit Rai on loan from Odisha

Mumbai City FC announced the signing of midfielder Vinit Rai on loan from Odisha FC. Rai, who captained the Juggernauts earlier this season, was a surprise signing between two clubs contending for the top four spot.

“I think he has a wonderful skillset and I’ve spoken since I arrived here about having the best Indian players at this club and he certainly fits that profile for that and also how we want to play,” said Buckingham. “What he also does is, he contributes to an already good midfield with us and just gives us different options whether it’s to start or to change the game up should we need at any point.”

What has gone wrong in last three games

After conceding just seven goals in their first six matches, Mumbai City have shipped in 10 goals in their last three games. Two of those three games have ended in defeats.

“We’ve made too many mistakes collectively, as a team and individually, more so in the last game. We’ve obviously gone back through the games and reviewed them. If there’s consistency to those mistakes and that’s something we can really focus and work on and that’s something which we did in the lead up to the last game,” said Des Buckingham.

“But with individual mistakes, they do happen. You hope that when they happen, they don’t happen as often as they did in the last game in particular. So, across the context of nine games, we’ve had a lot of changes, and I think we’ve played some extremely good football. Now, it’s just about finding that balance and making sure whether the collective or individual mistakes don’t end up in the back of our goal.”

Strategy against SC East Bengal

Mumbai beat SC East Bengal in both meetings last season. However, Des Buckingham is concerned about facing a side that has changed a coach.

“Whenever you play a team that’s just had a change of coach, I think anywhere around the world, sometimes you see an uplift, not just in the performance, but in results too. So, it’s something that we’re very aware of and I go back to what I said here several times,” admitted Buckingham. “I don’t think it’s where the teams are in the league [table “” not found /]
doesn’t play a reflection on the outcome of some of the games.

“We’re very aware of the threats they pose, we see an uplifting performance and result from them in the last game. However, the focus is on us and making sure that the 60-minute performance we had against Odisha from the first half onwards, we need to make that more consistent across the 90 minutes and also being sounder defensively.”

SC East Bengal

Approach against Mumabi City

Renedy Singh impressed on his debut as SC East Bengal coach. Singh, who has been with the Red and Gold Brigade as an assistant since last season, brought about a refreshing change against Hyderabad FC.

“As I said before the last match, the way we played against Hyderabad, I think that was a match in which our players thought that yes, we can also do well and in the previous two matches the way the boys have fought, the way they have played, the way they have defended, I was really happy to see. The only thing is when we get the ball can we play with a little more confidence. That’s what we all are working on right now,” said Renedy Singh.

“But yes, Mumbai is one of the best-attacking sides in the league. We know what Mumbai have done in the last many seasons and they are a great team. But then again we have to make the game more difficult for the opponent because if we allow them to play, they can punish us.

“We have to play as a group, as a team, as a unit, and attack together and defend together. It should be a good match even though we will be playing with only one or two foreigners. It’s difficult but I know that whoever, even the Indian boys I know, whoever is on the ground they will give 100% and do well,” added Renedy Singh.

Thoughts on players improving under him

“Before I took over for these three matches, I said I will work on the shape while they’re attacking and shape while defending and the structure. They went to the ground and did exactly what I wanted. If we play with a little more confidence when we have the ball and that’s the only part that we have to improve.

“It will not be easy, especially with a team like Mumbai. It will not be easy but in life, we have to take the chance and keep fighting.”

Goalkeepers struggling this season

“I can see that you know, in the whole league for all the goalkeepers it’s a tough time for them. I could see in some matches but then again you cannot blame only the keepers. When we concede a goal we have to see where the ball is coming from. Our forwards, our strikers are the number one defenders and our first attacker is the goalkeeper.

“So when we consider a goal, we shouldn’t just complain or blame the goalkeepers. We should blame the attackers also if they defend well it will be easy for the keeper. When we attack starts from the goalkeeper, so we cannot only blame the strikers. So we have to blame the whole team. But then again it happens. But I’m sure goalkeepers will play better incoming matches for sure.”

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