In the 2020-21 Indian Super League season, Mumbai City F.C. became the first ISL team to win the 'double,' i.e., the ISL Winners Shield and the Indian Super League trophy. The team led by Spanish coach Sergio Lobera broke numerous records and finished at the top of the league, just ahead of ATK Mohun Bagan on head-to-head record. Both teams finished the season with 40 points, but Mumbai just pipped the Mariners to win the ISL shield.
The winners of the ISL Shield get a chance to play in the biggest club competition in Asian Football, the AFC Champions League. Last season, F.C. Goa became the first Indian team to play in the AFC Champions League group stages. The Gaurs had an impressive debut campaign and surpassed every expectation people had from them. They played three draws and three defeats in the six group matches but could not qualify further. Nevertheless, it was a commendable performance by Juan Fernando's men as they made the nation of a billion people proud at the continental stage.
Next season, Mumbai City F.C. will represent India in the ACL, and Amey Ranawade, the MCFC right-back, spoke to us on how the team is approaching the prestigious tournament.
"We just do not want to play in the AFC Champions League; we want to win in the tournament. We want to play good attacking football and qualify further (than F.C. Goa). We will work hard in the pre-season and the ISL season. Mentally we are getting ready to play a very long season, we know it will be a challenge, but we are up for it. The entire team believes that we can do better, and we can qualify in the further rounds."
The standards set by F.C. Goa are pretty high, but it looks like the Islanders are ready for the challenge and want to one step better than the Gaurs and qualify for the knockouts of the AFC Champions League. It looks like Sergio Lobera and his team are up for the challenge next season, and it will be wonderful to see how far the Islanders can go in the ACL.
We at The Bridge got a chance to speak to Amey Ranawade about his historic season with his Mumbai City F.C. and much more. Keep following this space to know more about what he had to say about the upcoming ISL season, his team, and much more.