BY NISANTH V EASWAR Follow @niktheblue94 on Twitter
With just less than a week to go before the Indian Super League (ISL) fever takes over the country, Goal has been analysing the squads put together by all the teams.
Up next are Mumbai City FC who with the familiar figure of Brazil-born Alexandre Guimaraes in the dug-out, will be trying to get past the finish line following a semi-final exist in last year's ISL.
The Islanders topped the league table last year with 23 points on board but faced elimination at the hands of ATK in the semi-final. This time around, like all the other teams, they have a new-look squad. They have not only roped in Indian players like Balwant Singh, Amrinder Singh, Arindam Bhattacharya and Abinash Ruidas but also managed to gain the signatures of foreigners like skipper Lucian Goian, Everton Santos, Achille Emana and Rafa Jorda.
The Mumbai City FC squad in full:
Goalkeepers : Amrinder Singh, Arindam Bhattacharya, Kunal Sawant.
Defenders : Lucian Goian, Marcio Rosario, Gerson Vieira, Raju Gaikwad, Davinder Singh, Mehrajuddin Wadoo, Aiborlang Khongjee, Biswajit Saha, Lalchhawnkima.
Midfielders : Thiago Santos, Léo Costa, Achille Emaná, Sehnaj Singh, Rakesh Oram, Zakeer Mundampara, Sahil Tavora, Abhinas Ruidas, Sanju Pradhan.
Forwards : Rafa Jorda, Everton Santos,Pranjal Bhumij, Balwant Singh.
Mumbai City has the best set of goalkeepers going into the fourth edition of ISL. Amrinder Singh and Arindam Bhattacharya both have safe pair of hands and it won't be easy to score against either of them. Kunal Sawant is an able third-choice for the side and goalkeeping is one aspect of the game that Alexandre Guimaraes won't be concerned about.
In Lucian Goian and Gerson Veira, Mumbai City have two experienced defensive options coming back into the squad after their stint last season. They know the club and the coach and will be highly influential in keeping cleansheets throughout the season with assistance from two good goalies behind them.
Another positive for Mumbai City FC is that they are physically very strong and will be very hard to muscle them off the ball, with the likes of Sehnaj Singh deployed there. Guimaraes' squad also have very good options in attacking midfield who can create chances like Abhinas Ruidas, Achille Emana etc.
Lack of quality amongst the outfield Indian contingent in the Mumbai City squad for this season's ISL is striking. If you exclude Balwant Singh and Sehnaj Singh, there are no stand-out performers who are in form and that is a cause for concern.
Balwant Singh and Rafa Jorda are first-choice picks for Alexandre Guimaraes but if for some reason either of them ends up crocked, they will run short of attacking options on the bench. There are no other dependable options to replace either Balwant or Rafa and going into a 5-month long ISL, Mumbai City could be in a spot of bother when it comes to rotation in the attacking third.
Strikingly, Rafa Jorda has scored only around four league goals in the previous two seasons and has not been in the best of forms.
Punjab-born striker Balwant Singh's career is undergoing a renaissance at the age of 30. The former Mohun Bagan talisman has found a way into the national time and has started to find his feet in front of goal lately.
An ankle injury picked up by Singh during pre-season will not help his cause but if he can recover and get back to wearing his scoring boots on time, he can make his stay in Constantine's squad permanent.
Davinder Singh's growth from the University team to Indian football team has been phenomenal but at 21 years of age, the proud Punjabi has a long way to go in his career. Adept at right-back, Davinder was part of the Constantin-led India U-23 team. The stage is set for him to show the country that he can be a reliable right-back.
The Danger Man
Once touted as an option by clubs like Olympique de Marseille and Lyon, Achille Emana has had a very good footballing career. At 35, the Cameroonian is at the right place at the right time to make full use of his experience and skill to take Mumbai City towards the ultimate glory.
Amana is a powerhouse in attacking midfield and will be the creative force in Mumbai's repertoire. He is undoubtedly the key to unlock difficult defences in the ISL this season for The Islanders .