The reigning champions have returned to winning ways after their crucial 1-0 win over SC East Bengal in the last match. Having won three of their last five matches, Des Buckingham’s men are placed fourth in the league table with 28 points in 17 games. The Islanders will look to put out their best performance to order to extend their title defence. Mumbai City FC won against SC East Bengal by a 1-0 scoreline in their last game.
Having won just once in their last five matches, Derrick Pereira’s men sit ninth in the league standings with 18 points in 18 games. The Gaurs, after having an upsetting season and not being able to break into the top four, will look to conclude the season on a strong note. FC Goa lost their previous game by a 3-2 scoreline against Hyderabad FC.
Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham addressed the media during the pre-match press conference ahead of their game against FC Goa on Saturday, 26th February at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, Goa. Below are his excerpts from the press conference.
Des spoke about the confidence he has to get victories in the remaining matches and to stay put in the top four race.
“We’ve won three out of the last four games and I’ve spoken all along about making sure we take momentum into the final part of the season and that’s something that we certainly feel right now that puts us in a good position, the first thing on the table and secondly going into the next game against FC Goa tomorrow.
“It’s very much just focusing on Goa and what’s in front of our faces because they’ll be a very tough side, they’ve played some fantastic football this season, so we need to be set up and prepared for that. But again, we’ve come good in the last couple of weeks as well and we need to make sure that we continue getting the results and the performance is that which puts us in a stronger position to finish off the season where we want.”
FC Goa dominates the possession in games and always creates chances. Buckingham shared his views on how he will look to counter those.
“We try to get more of ourselves, and we try to create more chances. So, now we’ll have a plan for that. We know they’re a team that likes possession, we’ve played them at the start of the season and that generally hasn’t changed. They’ve always been a club that wants a lot of the ball, but we need to be smart about how we need to be set up to press that as we did in the first game.
“We need to make sure we put our own stamp on the game. We’re also a team that likes to have the ball with a team that likes to play in certain areas of the pitch and create our own chances. So, we’ll look to set up as well as we can to count on that, and then make sure that our playing style is as we want to create our chances.”
There are different types of fixtures coming up ahead with three league games and then the AFC Champions League. Des spoke on how will approach all of them.
“We will just approach every league game that we have left, which is three at the moment, without rushing into looking at the Champions League. It will be making sure that we take as many points as possible from the final three games while looking at the table and the results start coming around right now, I think we’re into a very interesting end to the season all around.”
In the last few matches, Bipin Singh has had many goal contributions (3 goals and one assist), the gaffer spoke about the winger’s performance and approach towards the games.
“I’m very happy with Bipin. You look at his stats, which are very high, but when you watch his game and the contributions he has, not only two goalscoring moments but also chance creation in the final third, they’re extremely high and have been very valuable to us not just in this season, but I think he’s continued on from where he left last year.
“But what I think you don’t see on the TV is the work rate, especially out of our possession. The amount of work he puts in, to come back and defend and help his fullback and help the team defend, it’s phenomenal. It’s very good, and he has different strands to his play and I’m incredibly happy with where he’s at the moment, I think he will continue getting stronger.”
Des also shed light on Ahmed Jahouh’s injury status.
“Ahmed Jahouh’s scans have come back and it’s not that bad. He could be in contention for tomorrow. The decision we have to make on him is for the longer term. We have three games left and also the AFC Champions League. So, we will make the call about him being involved tomorrow after consulting with the medical team. The last thing we want to do is to put him up for the risk.”
You played one No 6 and two No 8s in the last match in Inman [Bradden] and Cassio [Gabriel]. Des spoke on if he thinks that playing one 6s and two 8s causes gaps in the full-back position.
“Yes, I’ve never been one to get caught up on formations. For me, it’s more around principles and that’s what we try and base our game on, and regardless of whether we play one 6, or two 8s, or two 10s, or whatever formation we put out, it’s about making sure we stick true to our principles in possession and out of possession and that’s the most important thing to me as well.
“We do have different options available to us now and one of those is going to back to the two 6s as you mentioned, but it’s making sure whether we have the ball, we need to be very clear on what we want to do with it, and then out of possession we need to make sure whether it’s one 6s or two 6s that are defensively set up well because East Bengal was a good team and we couldn’t take advantage of that and I’m sure other teams will look at that as well.”
FC Goa also plays a lot from the midfield. Des spoke on the importance of a midfield battle in order to win the game.
“You will hopefully see a game between two teams that will want to have the possession of the ball, and play a certain style of football, and it will be a fascinating battle between both teams who will try and get control. And in the end, it’ll be the team that makes better use of the ball. But again, we’ll make sure we’re set up as well as we can defensively firstly to be able to press and try and dictate the game.”
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