Mumbai City FC will be keen to continue with their winning streak when they host a struggling Chennaiyin FC side on Thursday in an Indian Super League game in Mumbai on Thursday.
The Islanders are on a five-match unbeaten run, winning four games.
If they manage to avoid defeat against Chennaiyin, it will be their best unbeaten run in the history of the ISL and much of the credit has to go to their mean defence which has leaked in a mere two goals since conceding five against FC Goa. The men in blue have not looked back after that match.
In the last game against Delhi Dynamos, Mumbai City FC won 4-2.
“We have changed a lot of things compared to last season. We did not have a lot of time at the beginning of the season. We needed time to adjust. Now, we have no excuses and we need to keep working and fighting for the three points,” said Mumbai City FC’s head coach Jorge Costa.
Paulo Machado continues to be the chief orchestrator for Costa’s side in midfield and Arnold Issoko’s direct running on the right flank has also caused a lot of trouble to the opposition defences.
Modou Sougou hasn’t been on the score-sheet since their 1-0 win in Chennai and this game is an opportunity for him to increase his tally against Chennaiyin FC’s disjointed defence, which has shipped in 19 goals.
Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory was also appreciative of their opponents.
“I think they have a well-balanced team. I like Arnold, it’s very hard to shake him off the ball. (Matias) Mirabaje is great too but I think he’s been injured frequently. I also like the captain (Lucian Goian) but I think the strength of Mumbai lies in their teamwork. They don’t have any weak areas as such and are well-balanced,” said Gregory.
Defending champions Chennaiyin FC have had a season to forget so far having amassed five points from their opening 10 games. They have eight matches to go and in coach John Gregory’s words, they need a ‘miracle’ to make it into the top four.
“We’re a long way off from the play-offs and I think we need to win all the remaining eight games to even stand a chance of getting anywhere near the play-offs. But football being football, nothing is impossible! We need to win some points for our pride as I think we have performed nowhere to our standards this season,” said the Englishman.
The Marina Machans, however, wouldn’t want to throw in the towel as they will want to prove a point or two.
The players are certainly under pressure as the big names have failed to live up to the billing.
Jeje Lalpekhlua has endured his worst season in the ISL with no goals to show for his efforts. Jerry Lalrinzuala too has looked shaky at the back and hasn’t had the same impact when going forward. Mohammed Rafi, the experienced striker, could possibly get a chance to start as Gregory would look to chop and change in order to arrest their slide.
But with Mumbai on the rampage, the Chennai side, it seems, would have a difficult time.