Mumbai: Ahead of Mumbai City’s clash with Pune City at home, the club announced that defender Davinder Singh will take no further part in the season. Coach Jorge Costa then confirmed that influential midfielder Matias Mirabaje will also take no part in Friday’s match. Former Bengaluru player Joyner Lourenco has been drafted into the Mumbai side, who are looking for their first win of the season.
Mumbai and Pune come into the game after snatching a draw from the jaws of defeat in their previous matches. Diego Carlos earned a point against Delhi Dynamos at the death while Pranjal Bhumij stunned the packed Kerala crowd with a goal-of-the-season contender in stoppage time.
Mumbai coach Jorge Costa knows that his team has not got off to the best of starts. “The results we have had so far are not the ones we wanted, especially the loss at home in the first game,” Costa said at the pre-match press conference on Thursday. “We are working hard and I have confidence in this team and hope that tomorrow, we can do better than the first game.”
The Portuguese conceded that Pune have a more settled side, having not made too many changes from last season. “We have a new team but this can’t be an excuse tomorrow, we will do much better than first game. Pune have almost the same team as last season. Very good team, very good coach. It will be a difficult game for us.”
The first two games, Mumbai gave the impression of being a robust outfit, difficult to break down. The visitors’ coach Miguel Angel Portugal, meanwhile, promised to out-score the opposition. “My team always tries to score to score one goal more than the opposition. But, we need to maintain a balance. I know [Lucian] Goian has a good personality. They have good quality players in the middle like Rafael Bastos and Paulo Machado.”
Pune have a testing fortnight coming up, where they play three games in the space of 13 days. Portugal, though, was tight-lipped about playmaker Marcelinho’s availability. The Brazilian is expected to start on Friday. “We prepare the team in the concept I like. We go forward and cross, there is a possibility. When the opponent team is open, we like to play inside. We have only two days before we face Bengaluru.”
Pune only impressed in parts during their opener. With both teams desperately needing a win to get their campaign on the right track, the game promises to be an open contest. But, it remains to be seen if Mumbai start making their home advantage count.