Mandar Rao Desai:
On him nearing 100 appearances in the ISL
I am really proud. I dedicate this to my teammates and the coaches that I have worked with. It is an important milestone for me in a league where there are many players who have been playing from the first season. I started off as a winger, but credit to the coach who changed my position to left back during my time at FC Goa. The national team coach (Igor Stimac) also wants me to play in that position. So I’m learning everyday and trying to keep working to improve my game.
On his journey from FC Goa to Mumbai City FC
I feel the same way actually. Everyone is like my family, they treat me as their own. It is not easy to adjust in a new team. The coaching staff has also helped me a lot and here I have lots of known faces too. We want to build a team again like we did at Goa. The players are adapting well but it will take time because of the short pre-season.
On how he rates SC East Bengal
They are new in the league but are a big club and have experienced players. In terms of their following, they are a huge team. So we will need to play well to win. We need to play our game and focus on improving in every match. This will be another opportunity to do that. We need to be loyal to our style because that is the way we feel we can win. We want possession and we want to create chances.
On changing Mandar’s position during their time at FC Goa
He can play both positions. When I came to FC Goa, we needed an offensive fullback who’s also good in possession and has good decision-making in defence. Mandar was perfect for that. He is very versatile and intelligent and can play wherever we need him. I am happy with him joining us here because he is an important player. He can help us a lot in that position after Subhasish left and is the best option for us on and off the pitch.
On being faced with contrasting situations in the two matches so far
I am very happy with how we adjusted after the red card incidents in both matches. It was difficult to play our natural game in the first match. Then against Goa, we had the opportunity to take advantage of the situation and eventually won the game.
— Mumbai City FC (@MumbaiCityFC) November 30, 2020
On the areas that his team needs to improve
It is very difficult to build a new team and implement new ideas in just one two or three months. It will take time. I had the full squad for just three sessions before our first match. But we need to be competitive and play our style. My target as a coach is to achieve that balance. In the last match gave the ball away a lot, we have to keep better possession and play how we want to play.
On if Le Fondre and Ogbeche might start together upfront
While selecting the eleven I look at two different factors, formation and system. I can play with both the players but won’t change our style. For me, formation is negotiable but style is not. In the last game also they played together and I am happy either way. They are both very experienced and can adapt to every situation.
On the standard of refereeing in the ISL so far
We need to help the referees. It is difficult for them and I feel speaking about them is not respectful. We can’t find excuses in the form of refereeing decisions and lack of preparation. Instead I want to improve my players. We don’t need to discuss referees because their job is difficult as it is.
On if the mood in the camp is better after the win against FC Goa
It is always very important for the team’s confidence to win matches. Last match was a psychological boost for sure. It is a short season. So we need to get more points as quickly as possible. I’m happy with our response because we had to focus after losing the first game.
On if having a foreign core that has played with each other a lot is an advantage
I think in a new team, if you have experienced players it helps, especially in the ISL. This is because they can adapt to different scenarios. However, all the teams in this league are ambitious and all of them want to win. It will be a very competitive season. But I don’t think having new players who haven’t played in the ISL before is also going to be that big of a disadvantage.