It is a fixture that has delivered goals and that should continue on Sunday as both teams have promised to go for the win.
Mumbai City FC host Chennaiyin FC in an Indian Super League game that will feature two of the biggest names of Indian football in strikers Balwant Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua. Mumbai captain Lucian Goian and Chennaiyin coach John Gregory spoke to the media at the pre-match conference on Saturday.
They say that getting a point at Kerala Blasters’ home turf against them is not easy at all. And it turned out to be the exact case for Alexander Guimaraes’ Mumbai. They had to struggle and give the game their everything to return home with a point. Captain Lucian Goian wants to continue to eke out these results. He said, “It is a positive result. The coach will be happy with the way we played. It will give us confidence for the next two home games.”
Chennaiyin are on a winning run and also have a very good record against Mumbai. However, Mumbai are a tough team to beat at home and have started the season the same way. On this Goian said, “Yes it is very fortunate that we won the first game at home. For our fans, it is an important win”
He added, “Also tomorrow while playing at home, the fans will find us fantastic every time and we hope they make the game easy for us. It is not an easy game. Chennaiyin is coming here after winning two games. But, we are playing at home and we are ready to go for three points.”
Opposing striker Lalpekhlua is the talk of the town after netting a brace against ATK. The Islanders centre-back has played against him and knows how good a player he is. He said, “We didn’t discuss anything about him especially, we discussed the team. He is a very good player and I like him very much because he is a very good striker, he is a scorer.”
Talking about his own teammate he continued, “We have Balwant and he is also a good striker. After tomorrow’s game, we hope our striker is on the winning side. But, again he (Jeje) is a very good striker as I remember from last season. We know him and we know what we have to do.”
It has been four games and Mumbai haven’t looked at their best. When questioned about the weaknesses of his team the Romanian explained, “If we have some weakness, we normally try to improve that. We analyse every game and every player so that we improve. In the first game against Bengaluru FC, they played really well and we didn’t play the way we wanted to. But, from game-to-game we improved. We showed the character by coming back against Kerala. To come after trailing 1-0 is a good mentality.”
John Gregory managed side Chennaiyin defeated arch-nemesis ATK in a thrilling encounter that saw five goals being scored in the last 30 minutes. It was their third win on the trot and hence the Englishman is a happy man. He opined, “We struggled in the first 45 minutes against FC Goa in the first game, but since then we have managed to put together a couple of good results and we desperately want to win.”
Machans striker Lalpekhlua got his scoring touch back in the previous match as he scored twice to steal the three points. Gregory was relieved that his star forward found his scoring boots. “A part of your job, a large part of your job is to score goals, which he has done. Not only for the club, but also for his country. The fact that he had not scored going into the fourth game is very much unusual for him.”
He continued, “Fortunately, other people have been scoring which obviously takes the pressure off Jeje. The fact that Rafael scored, sort of, suddenly helped Jeje to relax and we spoke to him. He is working very very hard on the field.”
Rafael Augusto didn’t start against ATK and fortunately, for the tactician, Jaime Gavilan did well in his absence. “Yes he is back. We didn’t take the risk of playing him. As always you look at the players in a wider picture. We have got a long season, we have got 18 matches and if you give players too much of overload at the start of the season, you could lose them for longer periods. We felt that it was an ideal opportunity to give him rest.
About the Spaniard’s performance the manager added, “For somebody like Gavilan, who hasn’t played much in the first season, we got an opportunity to play him. He obviously contributed towards the victory. Raphael had a rest and we managed to win the game without him. He is obviously back and raring to go tomorrow.”