Mumbai City FC made an excellent start to the season by defeating FC Goa in their first game. But since then, they lost to Hyderabad FC in their second match of the season. In the next game, the Islanders face last season’s runners-up, ATK Mohun Bagan FC, who are currently top of the table after winning their first two matches.
Coach Des Buckingham and midfielder Apuia addressed the media ahead of their encounter against ATK Mohun Bagan on Wednesday.
21-year-old midfielder Apuia gave his verdict on what went wrong against Hyderabad FC and how they are preparing for the next game; this is what the youngster had to say, “In the last match, as a team, we were not playing well and also the result was not good. So we are working on how we can improve. We need to have more shots or finish the game when we can and not concede silly mistakes like penalties, throw-ins, and giving away set-pieces all that time which can hurt us. We are working on it, and hopefully, we can win the next match.”
Apuia won the emerging player of the last season, which made Mumbai City FC sign him by paying a record transfer fee for an Indian player. He spoke about his experience with his new club, working under newly appointed coach Des Buckingham and his individual goals for the season. This is what he had to say, “Yeah, of course, working with Des is a great opportunity. He knows what to do with young players. Everyone here is a very good player, and I have a lot to learn from them. I have improved a lot, and this season’s individual goals will be like, I would want to win the ISL trophy. That is my aim, and also the aim of the club. So it’s the same aim from both sides, and I am trying to contribute more to the club.”
When Des was asked about injury concerns in the team, he said, “No, actually we are in a better condition than we were in the last match. Mandar has been nursing a slight injury. Hence he has had no involvement in the last couple of games. So he’s now back and available for the full selection. Rowllin Borges picked up a slight injury during the preseason, as we’ve been trying to get him more minutes as well. So he now comes back into contention to start. Otherwise, everyone else is okay with the obvious exception of Vignesh, who unfortunately got injured in the first game of the season.”
On their opponents and their strengths, Des Buckingham was wary of how ATKMB could hurt them. He said, “Yeah, we have watched their first couple of games, and they have recruited extremely well and added to the squad that they had last year. They’ve been very exciting to watch, especially in their attacking play. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the likes of Roy Krishna, and they have others as well. But again, I’ll come back to what I said in the previous two games; it’s not so much about them; it’s making sure that we do what we want. So we need to prepare ourselves both in possession and our possession, to face another good team, and that’s what we’ve been working on the last two days”.
ATK Mohun Bagan FC would be high on confidence after their 3-0 win over arch-rivals SC East Bengal in the Kolkata Derby. Des Buckingham is, however, not concerned about facing a difficult opponent and is focused on getting the win over the Mariners. He said, “We approach the game the same way that we would approach any other game. That is by looking at, you know, what we think the opposition will do and then also the personnel that they have within their teams. We’re very aware of Hugo Boumous, but he is one of 10 outfield players that they have. But it’s important that we focus on ourselves and how we want to approach the game and how we want to play. And that includes how we want to play up possession as well, and that will be very important for this game and all the games this season.“
Mumbai City FC will be looking to get the second win of their campaign following a defeat to Hyderabad FC. ATK Mohun Bagan FC, on the other hand, will be looking to win against the Islanders and keep their momentum going by staying as table toppers. As Des said, it will be a difficult match between the two sides who meet for the first time since last season’s ISL final.
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