Last year’s semifinalists Mumbai City FC begin their campaign in the Indian Super League (ISL) Season 6 with a difficult away tie against Kerala Blasters in Kochi on Thursday.
This being the Mumbai-based outfit’s first match of the season, they will be keen to get off to a strong start. Kerala, on the other hand, won their first match against a star-studded ATK outfit at home in this season’s opening fixture, thanks to two goals from new recruit Bartholomew Ogbeche.
Mumbai will have to deal with the loss of stalwart Lucian Goian but with the addition of Rowllin Borges, they have strengthened their midfield. Kerala, on their part, would be relying on Ogbeche once again for the goods up front. Nevertheless, it promises to be an exciting clash.
The Bridge caught up with Pushkar Kulkarni, a West Coat Brigade member, to discuss his team’s chances this season, the opening fixture against Kerala and more.
Q> After a decent last season, what kind of expectations do fans have on MCFC this time?
When Jorge Costa came in last season, we expected the better player management to translate into the results. And it certainly did, as Mumbai City FC qualified for the knockout stages. This year the bare minimum we expect from the squad is to improve our attacking prowess, get another place in the knockouts and make our first appearance in the finals.
4. What do your team finishing at the end of the season?
As I said, at the end of the regular season, we should be in the Top 4 and go one step better in the knockouts to reach the finals. Once you’re in the final it is anyone’s game in a one-off pressure match.
5. How satisfied/dissatisfied are you with the squad?
Personally, I was upset on losing Lucian Goian to Chennaiyan as he was one of the reason for MCFC to be a strong defensive unit last season having great synergy with Amrinder, Subhashish and others. But we have covered the position with another experienced centre back in Mato Grgic. Also, the signing of Rowlin Borges will make our midfield one of the strongest in the leagues (having Paulo Machado & Raynier Fernandes as his partners).
6. Who do you think your most important players for the season will be?
The first name on most of MCFC fans’ lips will definitely be Raynier Fernandes, he is our creative outlet. Amrinder has always been the spine of our team. Moreover, one of the most important factors will be the attacking partnership of Modou Sougou & Amine Chermiti.
7. Coming to today’s match…Kerala started with a win against ATK…what kind of fight are you expecting?
Any game against the Blasters is one of the most emotionally charged game during the season. I am sure the Manjapadda fans will create a hostile atmosphere at Kochi, it will be a tough away game to start the season. Mumbai should specifically be wary of their new signing B.Ogbeche who already scored a brace against ATK.
8. Predictions for today’s game.
A positive start for MCFC with a 3-1 victory.