After a good ending to the last season, where the team finished 2nd in the group stages of the AFC Champions League, the team will return to training for the next season which will be the longest season so far with Durand Cup, ISL, and Super Cup to participate in. The Islanders hope to continue their good momentum in Asia to the domestic tournaments next season.
Mumbai City FC will be having their pre-season in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates from 24th July to the 11th of August. The team will leave for Kolkata on the 12th of August where they will participate in the 131st edition of the Durand Cup. The team has been grouped in Group B along with Kolkata giants East Bengal, ATK Mohun Bagan, I-League side Rajasthan United FC and the Indian Navy team.
Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham spoke to the media earlier today during the press conference via an online interaction session from all the way from Dubai. Below are his excerpts.
Assessments on the foreign and domestic players the team have signed so far.
“I am very happy with the recruitment we have done so far this season. If you talk about foreign recruitment then we have been able to bring Greg Stewart who was the ISL’s best player last season, and Alberto Noguera who has been performing consistently in the attacking third for FC Goa in the past couple of seasons.
Jorge Pereyra Diaz will add a good part to our frontline in terms of finishing to complement what we already have. Then there is Rostyn Griffiths whom I have already worked with before and he will come and give us some good defensive stability as well as being able to play in midfield. Those four players we have signed recently along with Mourtada Fall and Ahmed Jahouh who have renewed in January and have been among some of the most consistent players in the league for the last two or three years.
So in terms of foreign recruitment, I am very happy with the players we have been able to bring in and they suit the style of football we want to play in this coming season. In terms of domestic players, we have had Sanjeev Stalin coming in to complement the full-back areas, and also we have brought in last season’s I-League golden glove-winning goalkeeper Bhaskar Roy. He will add some more quality to the team. I feel we have equally strengthened all the positions in our team. There are no plans at the moment to bring in more players, but you never know.” –
Approach on the Indian football calendar being of longer duration.
“I think it’s a great thing for the league. When you look back to when the ISL started and was played for two to three months and now it will be played for eight to nine months. It’s a good thing for Indian football as the players will get more games and opportunities to prove themselves and showcase their skills. It will also be in sync with the other leagues in Asia in a positive way from the developmental point of view.
In terms of our approach, it will give us some more time to train and rest with the travelling and games being far away from one another. Last season playing inside the bubble it was crazy where we had to play three to four games in a space of two to three weeks. Thus it hindered the physical output and quality of the players in a long run. But this time with the crowds back in the stadiums, they will be able to see these players perform at their best level, and it’s going to be a good thing for the Indian Super League.”
Thoughts on the Durand Cup.
“Obviously it’s one of the oldest competitions in India and we are very excited to be able to take part in it. We will be taking our first team squad and we will try to use those games to attain success in the competition and also prepare ourselves for the ISL. Also, it will be our first game in India in front of the fans so we will like to make them happy with the display of our football.”
On the opponents in the Durand Cup group stage.
“I am looking forward to it. We are all very excited to come back together and pick up from where we left off in April from the Champions League. The team is happy to be able to approach the pre-season the way we wanted it to happen. We are keen to attend the Durand Cup and face strong teams like East Bengal and ATK Mohun Bagan.
But again We must also not forget that we have also got two other very good teams in the group that will be able to progress through the competition as we will. So I am excited about playing in the competition and the group we have got. Also, it will be our first taste of playing in front of the crowds so we can’t wait to play it.”
On whether the fans can expect the young players to get more game time next season.
“I have been coaching for a long time, and my role has always been about developing the Indian players or whatever their nationality is. I have experience in doing that and also a good track record in the past of developing young players and helping them progress in their careers. I have proved it in the Champions League where we had a young side and we gave opportunities to youngsters. In terms of the young players, the beauty of having them and working with them is you can see and track their development.
As long as they are clear and aware of what they want to achieve they will work hard and improve faster towards their potential, doesn’t matter how old they are and where they come from. As long as the young players continue to do that we have to give them the opportunities to them show what they can do at the highest level of football, and then it’s our job to manage them.”
On how the team will be playing in the upcoming season.
“The first thing is to make sure we carry on the momentum we had in the AFC Champions League. We were well prepared for the competition and we played a brand of football that wasn’t about sitting back, defending the whole game, and then losing the match. We went there and proved that Indian players and teams, in general, can go and compete at that level. Not just did we compete but we also finished off the campaign extremely well.”
Objectives for the upcoming season.
“We know and need to achieve more than what we did last year. I won’t right away say a specific objective and put pressure on the players and the staff. We are a club that wants to be successful with a coach and players who want to be successful. It will be an exciting season for us because we are trying our best to prepare as well as we can. We need to keep the players fit and ready for the season and go ahead achieving results from every game that we will be playing.”
Thoughts on playing in Mumbai and message for the fans.
“I can’t wait to visit Mumbai. I have only been there once in the past, which was with New Zealand National Team when we were invited to play in the 2018 Intercontinental Cup. So I am excited to be there and play in Mumbai and also see the city which I know is wonderful. Also there and more reasons like meeting the fans when they come and see us play like the way we did last season. Hopefully, it will be a better experience from the mentality standpoint than it was last year.”
Message for the Mumbai City FC fans.
“Yes, we are doing as much work as we possibly can to get ready for both the Durand Cup and the start of the ISL season. We can’t wait to get back to Mumbai and see the filled stadiums and experience it. It has been a long time since we had fans in the stadiums and we are really looking forward to playing in front of you and showing the exciting football that we played for a large part of the time last season on a consistent basis.”
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