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ISL: What’s going on at your club? Mumbai City FC

ISL: What’s going on at your club? Mumbai City FC

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 16 Oct 2020 2:08 PM GMT

Mumbai City FC are primed to take off this season.The club, which was previously owned by Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor and experienced high-profile chartered accountant Bimal Parekh, has found European support recently with City Football Group (CFG) coming in and acquiring a 65% stake in the franchise. The Abu Dhabi-based conglomerate already has Manchester City, New York City FC, Melbourne City FC and Girona amongst others in its portfolio, and has recently welcomed Belgian second division side Lommel SK to the fold, taking the total number of teams in their portfolio to nine. Not only does the takeover by CFG guarantee infrastructural benefits for the club for years to come, it also sets the club on the path towards greater advertising revenue and provides a roadmap for the franchise to transform into a maverick in the Indian football landscape.

The impact of this on the way the team is being set up for the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) season is there for all to see. Mumbai have already appointed former FC Goa head coach Sergio Lobera in a bid to play a brand of football that is attractive yet effective. The Spaniard was the assistant manager at Barcelona back in 2012 and last season, his Goa side received lots of plaudits for their fluent playing style, something that he will be trying to replicate with the Islanders. Mumbai’s transfer activity also suggests that they want to develop a definite identity going forward. Signings like Ahmed Jahouh and Mourtada Fall have been made keeping in mind the negative goal difference that the side ended up with last season, with his side’s defence being an area that Lobera would quickly like to sort out. These two former FC Goa players have been joined by a third ex-Gaur in the form of Mandar Rao. The experienced 28-year-old left back becomes Lobera’s first signing and should slot in seamlessly in defence with fellow new recruit Tondonba Singh also there as back up. Add Mehtab Singh and Mohammad Rakip to the mix and the team’s defence looks very well balanced ahead of what is going to be a gruelling campaign.

Read Also: ISL: Mumbai City FC sign Spurs academy product Cy Goddard from Serie A side on loan

The club has announced a number of new arrivals this past week although most of those deals were reportedly completed a while back with just the official confirmations left to be made. These include the likes of Mandar Rao, VikramPartap Singh and FarukhChoudhary, as well as Sergio Lobera’s appointment itself. Vikram joins from All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) developmental side Indian Arrows whom he captained in last season’s I-League and was also their top-scorer with 5 goals. Farukh on the other hand has been brought in from Jamshedpur FC for whom he scored once and assisted five times last term. The Islanders have also brought in an out-and-out centre forward in the form of Adam Le Fondre from A-League outfit Sydney FC as well as Tottenham Hotspurs academy product Cy Goddard from Serie A side Benevento Calcio to bolster their attack. With existing midfield options consisting of players like RaynierFernandes, Sourav Das, Bipin Singh, Rowlin Borges and VigneshDakshinamurthy, Lobera has a plethora of young talent to choose from based on the opposition and how he wants to set his team up. On top of that is the prospect of signing Hugo Boumous. The French-Moroccan midfielder lit up the ISL stage last season and has been strongly linked with a move northwards from Goa. However, with no official confirmation yet, this story is one to look out for as we approach the end of the transfer window.

Read Also: ISL: ‘For me there is still much to be achieved,’ says Mumbai City coach Sergio Lobera

Another interesting development which warrants discussion is the gradual shift in the club’s colours towards sky blue which one would have to think is another CFG influence. The team emblem has already undergone a slight change in colour from the previously navy blue motif, and there has been a similar trend with the official Twitter handle’s posts in the last few weeks including the transfer announcements, with all the graphics being done in sky blue. It wouldn’t be preposterous in this scenario to suggest that a change in the team’s jersey is on the cards although no such indication has as yet been provided by the club.

With most of the players now assembled in Goa inside a bio-secure bubble, preparation for the new season is on in full swing. Head coach Sergio Lobera has already touched down in Goa along with his support staff consisting of assistant coach Jesus Tato, fitness and conditioning coach Manuel Sayabera and goalkeeping coach Juan Maria Cruz Arias. Training has started in a staggered manner with the players gradually building their fitness before starting more intensive work with and without the ball on the training pitch. With just about a month to go for the start of the season, the Mumbai City FC squad looks extremely strong on paper. Once all the foreign recruits join in and the team starts adapting to Lobera’s methods, we should be able to witness a strong showing from a team that has been the proverbial underdog in the ISL till now.

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