The onus will be on Mumbai City FC to climb among the top four when they come up against NorthEast United FC at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai on Friday evening.
Mumbai, placed fifth on the 2019-’20 Indian Super League table, can leapfrog Odisha FC in the fourth position and go two points clear with a victory over the visitors.
After a disappointing 1-1 draw against Hyderabad FC in their previous outing, Jorge Costa’s men need to bounce back.
Mumbai City vs NorthEast United head-to-head
With Odisha dropping points against FC Goa, the Islanders will be hoping to capitalise and nick down their spot in the top four.
Modou Sougou is expected to be fit to start the game which will boost Mumbai’s attack. However, they will miss the suspended Pratik Chowdhary who has amassed four yellow cards. Souvik Chakrabarti’s departure to Hyderabad FC will also leave the home side short of defenders.
However, 19-year-old Hmingthan Mawia is expected to partner Mato Grgic at the back as Mumbai will look for their third win on home soil this season.
Rowllin Borges has been in impressive form alongside Sourav Das as their understanding has only grown in the last couple of games. Mumbai struggled to create chances against Hyderabad FC and Costa is expected to change his tactics in order to ensure his forwards have more to work with.
Mumbai, who fielded a 4-2-3-1 formation against bottom-placed Hyderabad, could switch to a 4-3-3 formation with Serge Kevyn making way for Sougou. Costa hinted he won’t tweak his system as his side seek a crucial win.
“I am sure my players will give their best,” said Costa at the post-match press conference.
“I can change one or two players in the team but not my system. I don’t know what will happen or the end of the season but I know we are trying and working hard. All points lost at this stage are difficult to recover, but we will give our best to win the game,” added Costa.
Big concerns for visitors
The visitors have several issues to address. They have scored the least number of goals this season – nine. Add to that, the Highlanders have only scored three times away from home. In their last three away games, they haven’t scored a single goal either. They have lacked creativity in midfield, often struggling to carve open the opposition in most games.
Injuries haven’t helped their cause as star signing Asamoah Gyan spent considerable time on the sidelines before being ruled out for the season. Federico Gallego hasn’t yet hit his peak form since his return from the injury he suffered in the play-offs last season. After a brilliant start to the season, winger Redeem Tlang and midfielder Martin Chaves have also gone off the boil.
New signing Andy Keogh and Simon Lundevall are yet to acclimatise and gel with the rest of the team-mates. Placed ninth on the table, Robert Jarni’s side cannot afford to drop any points if they are to harbour the slimmest of hopes of making it into the play-offs.
In defence, however, Mislav Komorski and goalkeeper Subhasish Roy Chowdhury have impressed and have largely been responsible for restricting the number of goals they have conceded. Chowdhury, in particular, has shone, making 45 saves – the highest in the league.
NorthEast are on a run of eight matches without a win and badly need a change of fortunes.