ISL 2019 Preview: Backed by a balanced squad, Mumbai City FC eye playoff spot
Fresh off a rather eventful transfer window, Mumbai City FC go into the Indian Super League with a lot of confidence in their kitty.
IFresh off a rather eventful transfer window, Mumbai City FC go into the Indian Super League with a lot of confidence in their kitty. They will be bolstered by the fact that they made it to the playoffs last year, where they lost to FC Goa. However, Jorge Costa, the architect of the Islanders’ campaign last year will take heart from the fact that he managed to do so in his very first season in charge.
Learning from their mistakes, Costa has roped in several key players all over the pitch to go the extra mile this year. On paper, the Islanders have one of the most balanced squads, and if they can gel well and get going, they should not have a lot of trouble replicating their form from last year. The onus will be on star striker Modou Sougou to deliver once again, but much is expected from new recruits Diego Carlos, Rowllin Borges and Mato Grgic as well.
Setup this season
Known to prefer a 4-3-3, Mumbai City FC will have Amrinder Singh in goal. The back four will consist of Subhasish Bose, Anwar Ali, Mato Grgic and either Davinder Singh or Sarthak Golui. A lot of attention will be on the experienced campaigner Grgic, who arrived from Northeast United FC after an excellent outing for the Highlanders last season. He was part of the Highlanders squad that kept 8 clean sheets (joint highest with Mumbai City FC) in 2018/19. With him and Anwar in central defence, the Mumbai City FC backline will be as strong as ever and according to some, will even help them move on from the talismanic Lucian Goian who left for Chennaiyin FC in the transfer window.
In midfield, the trio of Machado, Larbi and Borges will look to impose themselves on the opposition. Machado, playing in the defensive midfield role will be eager to impress as much as he did last year. Borges, another former Highlander will hope to chip in with the same kind of energy and passing he was known for. With four goals and two assists last season, he will also be expected to operate as a creative component to Mumbai’s attack.
Upfront, the duo of Sougou and Chermiti will attempt to light up the Mumbai Football Arena this year. The former, who netted 12 times in the last campaign is expected to be the focal point of their attack once again. The highly talented Raynier Fernandes or the Brazilian Diego Carlos will most likely play right behind them, providing the connection between midfield and attack and opening up spaces for Sougou or Chermiti to run into.
Goalkeepers: Amrinder Singh, Ravi Kumar, Kumar Sawant.
Defenders: Anwar Ali, Pratik Chaudhri, Souvik Chakrabarti, Davinder Singh, Mato Grgic, Sarthak Golui, Hmingthan Mawia, Shubhasish Bose.
Midfielders: Mohammed Rafique, Raynier Fernandes, Sourav Das, Vignesh Krishnamurty, Rowllin Borges, Surchandra Singh, Bipin Singh, Paulo Machado, Bidyananda Singh, Mohamed Larbi.
Forwards: Serge Kevyn , Diego Carlos, Pranjal Bhumij, Alen Deory, Modou Sougou, Amine Chermiti.
Three key players
Rowllin Borges made the headlines last year with his performances under Eelco Schattorie. Transformed into a box to box midfielder for Northeast United FC, he was one of the finest Indian players in the league and scored and set up goals for fun. With him and Machado in midfield, Mumbai have the correct balance of offence and defence in the middle of the park which, when used correctly, can cause a lot of problems to any team.
Arguably the best goalkeeper in India currently, Amrinder Singh had 7 clean sheets in 19 games last season. Dominant in the air, an excellent shot-stopper and extremely comfortable on the ball, the 26-year-old has been named as the vice-captain of Mumbai City FC and was also the Golden Glove winner in 2016. He will be eager to continue his form for the Islanders and go all the way to the final this year.
Sougou had an indelible impact on Mumbai City’s fortunes last year, scoring two goals every three games. His pace and trickery made it difficult for defences to mark him, and given the improvement in service that he can expect this year, Sougou will be eager to build up his reputation further. Borges, Raynier, Costa and Sougou should be one exciting attacking component if they click, which they should.
With the ammunition that they have in place, anything apart from a playoff spot would be disappointing for the Islanders this season.
Mumbai City FC takes on Kerala Blasters away for their first game of the season on 24th October 2019. The first home is against Odisha FC on the 31st of October.