Des shared his verdict on the new signing of midfielder Vinit Rai. This is what he had to say,
“I think he has a wonderful skill set, and I’ve made it clear since I arrived here about having the best Indian players at this club, and he certainly fits the profile for that and also, the way we want to play. What he also does is, he contributes to an already good midfield with us and gives us different options whether it’s from start or to change the game up should we need to at any point.”
Nawaz has been conceding many goals in the recent matches and Des was asked about his performances this season so far.
“Nawaz played all the nine games so far, and I think it’s easy to pull out mistakes, but I think it’s also important that you reflect upon the nine games as a whole, and you know there are some important moments that goalkeepers especially don’t get credit for. When the team goes on to get results we forget their role like his penalty save against Chhetri which helped us win the match.”
“It’s making sure in the context of nine games that you’ve got a young 21-year-old goalkeeper, who hadn’t played in nine months before this season, but he is also an experienced goalkeeper who has played over 50 games in his league. So I’m happy with him up until this point.”
Mumbai City have conceded 10 goals in their last 3 matches. Coach Buckingham pointed out the mistakes and also spoke about how he is trying to improve on those.
“We’ve made too many mistakes as a team, we’ve made too many mistakes individually, more so in the last game. We’ve obviously gone back through and reviewed if there’s a consistency to those mistakes and that’s something we can really focus and work on and that’s something we did in the lead up to the last game, but if they’re individual mistakes they do happen and you hope that when they happen they don’t happen as often as they did maybe in the last game in particular.
“So across the context of the nine games rather than just the three, it’s only nine games we’ve had together. We’ve had a lot of change but across the nine games, not just the three that we’ve just played I think we’ve played some extremely good football and the first half or the first 60 minutes of the last game I was delighted with the quality the movement and the chances that we created. It’s now just about finding that balance and making sure that whether it’s a collective or an individual those mistakes don’t end up in the back of our goal.”
Des Buckingham gave his assessment of opponents SC East Bengal ahead of the game.
“Whenever you play a team that’s just had a change in coach, I think anywhere around the world you will see an uplift not just in performance but of results. So we’re very aware of the threats they pose.”
“We see an uplift in both performances and obviously, the result from them in the last game but the focus is on us and making sure that that 60-minute performance that we had against Odisha from the first half onwards we need to make sure that is more consistent across 90 minutes and the focus will be making sure that defensively we are sound as well.”
Vignesh recently returned from an injury and played his last game against Odisha FC. Des gave his insight on the other injury concerns in the team.
“In terms of injuries, we’re good as we were ahead of the last game. Vikram and Rowlin are set to miss tomorrow, Vikram is not too far away and is likely to be back-involved for the game against Bengaluru FC and Rowlin won’t be available for this one and is likely to miss the match against Bengaluru FC as well.”
Ahmed Jahouh has been involved in everything Mumbai City does whether it’s defending, starting the attack or build-up play, or even scoring goals or assisting them. Buckingham was in full praise of the Moroccan midfield maestro.
“I was very impressed with Jahouh since the start of the season. He’s such an influential player on the field and he’s been so consistent with his performances over the past couple of seasons in this league. He’s been an absolute pleasure to work with, but with the quality of his play he’s really taking a grasp of that, and he is starting to drive into that position, so I’m very happy with Jahouh, and it’s important now that he continues to perform and develop his game.”
Des was asked if he wished to strengthen his defense after the recent poor defensive show from the team. He defended his players and felt there is no need for any reinforcements in defense.
“I’m very happy with the players that we have here. I think we’ve got Rahul Bheke, Valpuia hasn’t played and young Mehtab also there you know to partner Fall, and I think with the qualities of those we have enough across that backline. It’s important that we don’t overreact, it’s not that we’re not in a good position.”
“It’s my job to work on that with the team, and it’s the team’s role to try and put that onto the field, but again in the context of where we are after nine games, we’ve scored more goals than anybody else. We will fix up defensively, but it has only been the last three games where we conceded 10 goals. So it’s making sure that we obviously address those issues but not overreact.”
Igor Angulo and Ahmed Jahouh have been two very important players for Mumbai this season. Des was asked if the team is overdependent on these two players. Below is his response,
“I think Igor was brought here because he was a leading goalscorer and that’s a target for him again this year. So I think he’s doing his job and doing it well in that respect. I think Jahouh has continued on from where he left last year, but if you look across our team we’ve had goals and assists come from not just those two. So I wouldn’t go as far as to say we’re relying upon those two players when you break down the statistics of the goals and where they’ve come from. I think it’s probably a more rounded side than that.”
Des spoke about the way he would approach the game against SC East Bengal.
“We’ve approached every game in the same way, which is to prepare our players as well as we possibly can for what we may face, and we’ll do the same. We’ve done the same for this game, and then it’s been about making sure that we’re very clear on our game plan and our game style. So again the focus is on preparing them for as well as we can and making sure that people are very much aware of their roles within the team for when we have the ball and when we don’t have it as well.”
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