ISL: "A leader doesn't need an armband to lead his team," says Mumbai's Mourtada Fall
Mumbai City FC's Captain and Centre Back Mourtada Fall shares his views in an exclusive interview with The Bridge.
Mumbai City FC's center back and captain Mourtada Fall has been in a prolific form this season so far. The Senegalese stopper has played all three matches for the Islanders and has established a solidity and composure at the back. Ahead of their match against Bengaluru FC Fall sat down with The Bridge for an exclusive interview. Here's what he had to say on football, ISL, personal achievements among other things.
On Evolution of ISL Over the Years
Mourtada Fall is now in the 4th season of his Indian Super League career. After playing 65 games and winning four trophies, he is one of the most senior and one of the most successful foreign players in the league. He has seen the evolution of ISL over the years and talking about the same he said, "I have played for four years now. I learned a lot. ISL has improved now, it's improving every year. Last year, it was not so easy for teams after Covid but this year teams have got experienced and it's much better now. Young Indian players have also improved a lot."
Foreign Players Cap in ISL
AIFF has reduced the foreign players' cap to only four this year. This has posed a big challenge in front of teams and has also reduced the game time of foreign players. Speaking on the same, he said, "It's not easy as they put one foreigner less so it's difficult for a lot of teams. But it will increase Indian player chances. So you need an extra Indian player with good quality. Teams who have got such players, they don't have problems as they understand the game pretty well."
Playing under Des Buckingham
Mumbai City FC roped in English Manager and former Melbourne City assistant coach Des Buckingham before the start of the season to replace outgoing Sergio Lobera. Speaking about the new coach, he said, "Every coach is different. Every coach has a different style so we need to adapt. This is our job, we need to understand but I don't feel a lot of change with Des. It's still the same style and same motivation. Maybe there are a few changes but most of the time it's the same. And I feel very comfortable with Des this season."
On his new defense partner Rahul Bheke
Mumbai City FC signed Indian veteran Rahul Bheke from Bengaluru in the transfer window. Rahul has partnered Fall in all three games this season and talking about his experience with him, Fall said, "Rahul is a very important player. Everyone knows him here, he has won titles with Bengaluru and with the Indian team as well. He brings experience. I talk with him and I feel comfortable with him."
On Mumbai's Emphatic Win Over ATKMB
In the last match, Mumbai City FC hammered ATK Mohun Bagan 5-1 sending a warning to every other team in the league. Talking about that match, Fall said, "Every game is different, every team is different. We need to understand their tactics, how they play. We don't have much time, there are only two days between games. So we try to watch them and work on a gameplan in training as ATKMB is a tough team so we prepared accordingly for them and executed it well."
Preparation for Bengaluru
Mumbai City FC will play Bengaluru FC on 4th December at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Goa. Talking about preparation before the match, Fall said, "As I told you before, we take every game in the same way. We don't change much. Of course at times, we have to look at the opponent but as we don't have much time, we try to keep it simple."
Personal Records and Tips to Youngstars
Mourtada Fall has now scored 14 goals and also has 3 assists to his name in 65 ISL games he has played so far. He is also the highest goalscoring Centre Back in ISL history which is a commendable feat. Talking about how youngsters can improve this part of their game, Fall said, "Of course you need quality for this. You need to work a lot on training for this. It looks easy on TV but it's not. When you go into the opponent's box, you have to think like a striker and not as a defender. There will be markers on you so have to be aware of the goal. Young players need to train and focus on this aspect.
Responsibility as Captain
Mumbai City FC announced Mourtada Fall as their official captain just before the start of the season. Sharing his views on his responsibilities as a leader, Fall said, "Captain is important but for me, a leader is one who helps the team. You don't have to wear an Armband to be a leader. If you have 3-4 such leaders in the team then it helps a lot. And I have always tried to help young players and lead the team even without the Armband."
Message for the Fans
Lastly, Mourtada had a special message to his and Mumbai City FC fans as well who have been deprived of watching games live in the last two seasons. He said, "Fans are very important. They give you energy and motivation. It's been difficult for us without them in the last 2 years. So we miss them, we love them and we want them back in the stadium singing songs for us."
It's safe to say that Mumbai City FC's captain looks more confident than ever and seeing their last match performance Mumbai City FC are going to be a force to reckon with, this season.