Mumbai City FC are 5th in the points table with 25 points (7 wins and 4 draws) from 16 matches. Mumbai City FC suffered a 3-2 defeat against Jamshedpur FC in their last match. The Islanders will be set to defend the ISL League Winners Shield and hope to advance in the top four against SC East Bengal. Coach Des Buckingham has urged his players to put in their best efforts and give out a full-fledged performance during the 90 minutes in order to finish the season as strongly as possible.
Meanwhile their opponents, SC East Bengal are currently placed in the 11th position on the standings having collected 10 points (1 win and 7 draws) from 17 games. The Red and Gold Brigade will be looking to get their 2nd victory of the season in the upcoming game. The Torchbearers lost 1-0 against Kerala Blasters in their last game. SC East Bengal are mathematically out of contention of the playoffs spot, and they will be playing for their pride instead to give something back to their fans.
Ahead of Mumbai City FC’s match against SC East Bengal on Tuesday, 22nd February at the Fatorda Stadium, coach Des Buckingham addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference. Below are his excerpts from the same.
Des Buckingham spoke about the mistakes that led to their narrow defeat against Jamshedpur FC.
“I felt the way Jamshedpur was playing, we needed to get more opportunities to get in behind them. They’re very good defensively, very strong, and I felt that the way we played in front of them allowed them to play to their strengths. When we went 0-2 down, we hadn’t quite settled. At halftime, I felt that we needed to change and we did that.”
Mumbai City are approaching this match after a loss, and in the context of qualifying for the top four and the ISL League Shield, Des spoke on the importance of winning tomorrow’s match.
“Going into this one, we know there are four games left, but then again, it’s important that East Bengal, regardless of where they are on the table right now, have a different way of working with a new coach. They will be a tough team, but we must only focus on this game, and we know how important it is for us in the club to set us up for the last three games.”
Des expressed how hard of a problem it is for the coaching staff to sustain the right mood in the camp after the previous game, which obviously makes things a little harder to retain the Shield.
“The mood in the camp has never been a problem. I think that’s where you go back to having good people as well as good players in this environment. I’ve spoken all season about a sense and feeling of family amongst this group and I certainly still see that and feel that the group is very clear on what we want to do and how we want to achieve it until that’s not possible. They’re very upbeat and ready to make sure that we can approach this game which will set us up for the final three to put ourselves in the best position coming to the end of the season.”
Mumbai City FC shifted to a 4-3-3 formation after midfielder Ahmed Jahouh’s injury. Head Coach Des spoke on if the same system can be continued in the upcoming games.
“When Ahmed (Jahouh) came off we made the change and brought on Vinit (Rai) to continue playing with our two holding midfield players since we have played with them throughout the season. So, we changed that system at halftime and brought players on to try to exploit those spaces that we had in the first half, and it worked really well.
“With the way East Bengal plays, they have a new coach, they have a couple of different ways set up. So, it will depend upon a couple of things. One, regarding Jahouh, whether or not he’s fit, and the other will depend on how we think they will play to see what team we field and what team we feel will get the best result from that gap.”
In the game against Jamshedpur FC, Ahmed Jahouh was replaced by Vinit Rai, who was taken off at half-time for Brad Inman after the reigning champions conceded two goals in the first half.
“Obviously, Vinit joined us in January, so in terms of making sure we had players on the field that would best understand what we were trying to do in a very quick timeframe, we took Vinit off. I explained and apologized to Vinit because it’s never nice to bring somebody on and bring them off. But it has nothing to do with performance.”
SC East Bengal are at the bottom of the table, so there’s an expectation for Mumbai City FC to beat them. Buckingham spoke on if it’s an added pressure on the team to fulfill it, and also how he is handling the situation so that the players can perform their best in the match.
“Yes, we’ve seen that all along with that teams, regardless of their league positions, are able to beat anyone. We saw that the other night with NorthEast United FC. So we can’t turn our attention away from making sure that we perform to the top of our ability and level that we have, against East Bengal because we’ve played them once already.
“For me, we dropped two points, we should’ve come away with three, but we know how important this game is to us, not just in the context of where we are in the league but also about making sure we put ourselves in the position that we want to, come the end of the game, which is to finish strong and to make sure we set ourselves up well for the final three games. We know how important this game is not just in the context of where we are in the league, but making sure we put ourselves in the position that we want to come to the end of the game.”
Four more games to go in the league stage. Des spoke on if there are any goals or objectives that he hopes to achieve within that time span.
“Yes, we want to pick up as many points as we can. There are 12 on offer and that’s a target that we know we’re going to need to get close to if we want to finish the season in the semi-finals and hopefully higher up and the other will be, to continue trying to play as well as we can to our identity and our style that, you know, we’ve shown patches and parts over either half of football or close to full games. But it’s important now that we start putting those performances together over the full period of 90 or 96 minutes like it was the other week.”
Looking at how Mumbai City FC had to settle for a draw last time, Des spoke on if the team will focus on a more aggressive approach, or play with the same approach.
“In this game, we want to be more aggressive. I’ve said all along, I want to be excited watching our team play from the sidelines and I want to see us playing attacking football and that’s something that we’re trying to take into every game and that won’t change going into this one.
“We want to score goals so need to make sure we tighten up defensively which we haven’t done in the last couple of games. But for me, it’s about going out to attack teams, I want to go out and win games and win them well. I’m not going into the game to try and take a point or two to try not to lose. That’s very important especially to us as a club and an important part of me as a coach.”
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