Mumbai City FC has had a successful Durand Cup campaign thus far, and they now prepare to meet Mohammedan SC in the semi-finals. The qualified as table toppers and toiled hard against Chennaiyin FC in the quarter-finals to reach so far. Coach Des Buckingham and Greg Stewart attended the press conference ahead of the big game. Here are the excerpts from the same:
What will your approach be for the game?
“The approach will be the same as before. Every game we need to get better, we must improve our performance both with and without the ball. We’ve also put ourselves in a good position for the upcoming season. We’ve played five competitive games, which has been good for us. Whatever team we play, we will use the same approach.“
Mohammedan will benefit from home support tomorrow. How does that affect you?
“That is the beauty of getting out of the bubble. We’ve been in Kolkata for a long time and have been well taken care of. We trained next to the field while Mohammedan was playing, and the noise from the stadium was loud. I’m excited because we’ll be able to show the fans the type of football we want to play.“
Are there any specific plans for Marcus Joseph?
“We’ve spent a lot of time looking at their team over the last few days. They have the qualities of an ISL team in my opinion. They have done an excellent job of recruiting. Dauda came in and scored twice after only being here for a few days. They have good Indian players as well as a good balanced squad. We must be organised and prepared. I’m looking forward to the game because the way they and we play is exciting.“
How satisfied are you with the campaign thus far?
“I’m very happy. We wanted to continue where we left off in the ACL. The players put in a lot of effort during the offseason. It’s like a pre-season for us. I am pleased with the goals we have scored; however, we do not want to concede as many as we have, and this is something we must work on. We spent three weeks preparing the players in Dubai. We’ve played five good games, and if we can keep developing and playing good football, I’ll be very happy.“
You conceded 10 goals in the last five games. Is it an area of concern?
“In cup football, one goal is all that is required to win the game. It is something we will work on. There’s a reason we’ve conceded so many goals; we’re trying new things, and players like Fall are returning from injuries. We’re rotating players to avoid suspensions and injuries. So we’ll try to improve the consistency across the back line. We’ve conceded some goals, but we’ve also scored a lot. Our style of football is costly, and it can leave us vulnerable at times, but we have players who can score goals. Once we find the right balance, we should see a few more clean-sheets.“
Will Mumbai try to win the game in 90 minutes because playing another 120-minute game in this weather will be difficult?
“We will always try to win the game in 90 minutes. We are still in the early stages of the season, so fatigue can set in if we play extra time, lowering the quality of the game. We’ll try to move and reorganize the team. We had our squad depth tested with extra-time in the previous game, so we’ll try to win it in 90 minutes this time.“
With the team’s performance in the previous game, the fight and nerve that they displayed, do you believe that entering the ISL in such a way is a huge positive?
“We had control of the previous game, but we turned off at times, and the opposition took advantage of it. I was pleased with how the players kept pushing themselves. There was fatigue, tiredness, and cramping, but the players persevered and won the game. We must stick together and push through.“
On the return of Mourtada Fall and Rowlin Borges?
“It was wonderful to have Fall back. He only trained with us for four sessions, but we managed to provide him with 40 minutes in the previous match. Borges was also welcomed back not only on the field, but also into our group. I believe he will add a different dimension to our midfield, and it is great to have him back.“
What are your thoughts on the last game’s goal-fest?
“We knew Chennaiyin from the previous season. They made a few changes to the team. We made some mistakes along the way, but that is to be expected when working with a new team. We needed to win the cup tie, so everything else we did was unimportant. All we needed was a win.“
We anticipate a large crowd cheering for Mohammedan in the next game. How would you deal with that kind of pressure?
“It’s wonderful to have the fans back. Football isn’t the same without fans, so I’m looking forward to experiencing that atmosphere. I’m hoping to send the Mohammedan fans home disappointed.“
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