After a good performance in the AFC Champions League and the Durand Cup, Mumbai City FC have now set its eyes on the ISL. The Islanders acted wisely in the summer transfer window as they signed some key players with prior experience in the league. That was all coach Des Buckingham needed to tune his team from last season which narrowly missed out on the ISL playoffs.
But, this season Mumbai will want to repeat the feat it had achieved in the 20/21 season when it won both the League Shield and the ISL title. It will not be an easy task for the Islanders but considering the artillery, Des has in his team, the task looks much more simple.
Des Buckingham has become one of the most admired managers in Indian Football since Mumbai’s Champions League campaign. The English coach is one of the youngest coaches in the ISL, but his age certainly doesn’t reflect his high experience as a manager. Des usually prefers his side to play possession-based football where the team has hold of the ball for the majority of the time, and after losing the ball, the team presses together aggressively and wins back the ball. He has previous experience working at Stoke City FC Reserves, a couple of A-League sides, and also the New Zealand National football team.
Mumbai City FC only retained Senegalese defender Mourtada Fall and Moroccan midfielder Ahmed Jahouh for the upcoming season. All other foreigners are new to the club and most of them have good knowledge of the ISL. The Islanders have roped in Spanish midfielder Alberto Noguera from FC Goa. Noguera is one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the league. Also, the club signed Scottish forward Greg Stewart who won the golden ball last season for his 10 goals and 10 assists contribution. Stewart played a key role in helping Jamshedpur FC win the League Shield.
Argentine Striker Jorge Pereyra Diaz also signed for the club. Diaz was loaned to Kerala Blasters from Argentine club Platense last season and scored 8 goals and was phenomenal in the Blasters’ run to the ISL final. Diaz’s hold-up play and his physique make him difficult to play against. The last foreigner is Rostyn Griffiths from Australia, and he will be filling up the Islanders’ Asian quota foreigner’s place. Rostyn is very experienced and also very versatile. He can play both in the defense and in the midfield.
The new Indian players, Mumbai City FC have signed for the upcoming season include goalkeeper Bhaskar Roy who was signed from the I-League side Rajasthan United FC. Bhaskar made his mark in the I-League last season as he won the golden glove of the league award. 25-year-old defender Gursimrat Singh Gill was also signed from fellow ISL side ATK Mohun Bagan. Also, Vinit Rai returned back to the club for another loan stint as Raynier Fernandes went the opposite way to Odisha FC on loan.
There were also many Indian players who left the club on loan for the upcoming season. They include Naorem Tondonba Singh who joined NEROCA FC, then there is defender Huidrom Naocha Singh, midfielder Valpuia and forward Pranjal Bhumij who set for loan spells at I-League outfit Roundglass Punjab FC.
Top Three Signings
The top three signings for the Islanders are Greg Stewart, Alberto Noguera, and Jorge Pereyra Diaz.
Mumbai has undoubtedly the most ISL-experienced squad in the league next season. The Islanders have got a good core of Indian players along with the top quality foreign players. The squad also has good depth and is a mixture of youth and experience. With a young coach at the helm who made this team perform well against Asia’s biggest and strongest clubs, the Islanders can be optimistic ahead of heading into the new Indian Super League season.
Every good side has also got some weaknesses in them. But what makes a side good is how quickly it can overcome those weaknesses. For Mumbai, the defense is a bit concerning and is supposedly unsteady. We saw a glimpse of that in the Durand Cup as the team concealed some goals against considerably weaker opposition. The team’s side-backs are also a bit inconsistent in terms of tracking back and defending while the opponent is on a counterattack.
Mumbai City FC’s Possible Starting XI
Considering the resources Mumbai City have and also their association with the City Football Group’s expert panel, a season without winning a trophy will be considered a failure for Mumbai City FC. Des Buckingham’s side will also have a mandatory aim to qualify for the ISL playoffs which his side failed to make it last season. But finishing second in the Durand Cup 2022 and also in the group stage of the AFC Champions League will rouse the Islander’s confidence heading into the 22-23 ISL season.
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