Mumbaikars hope to revitalize their non-existent home form, while the Meghalaya Reds under Thangboi Singto look for their second away win...
Khalid Jamil and Thangboi Singto will be looking for a renewed sense of urgency coupled with lack of complacency from their sides face each other in an enticing, potentially explosive tie at the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune, as part of the round six offering of the I-League.
This tie is important as both teams head into the game knowing that putting one over their opponents will increase their chances of achieving their expected goals, which in this case is a top five final berth in the domestic competition.
Mumbai FC will hope to wake up from a horror show against Salgaocar FC in round five. As Jamil put it, “It's better we forget this performance as soon as possible." What’s more troubling is that Mumbai FC have just a solitary win in five games, drawing three and losing one. Their home form is ridiculous, accounting for all three draws and the loss.
So, the yellow and blues will head out knowing that they need to win this game to keep in touch with the teams at the top of the table, who are Salgaocar FC, Pune FC and Bengaluru FC, each with a game in hand and a four point advantage already over the Mumbaikars.
A part of Mumbai’s problems have resulted, as aforementioned, on an over-reliance on Haroon Amiri. The young versatile Afghan seems to dictate his team’s tempo as well as formation. His form has been dipping ever so slightly of late and Jamil will hope to get other important tenants of the team like Climax Lawrence and Sanjdar Ahmadi can improve their games to have similar impacts. Yusif Yakubu has yet to join the squad.
Essien Orok has been disappointing so far but Jayesh Rane is emerging as quite a talent. Khalid is expected to have a full squad at his disposal. Having recently lost their unbeaten tag, they’ll be itching to get at the opposition.
It is into this cauldron that Thangboi Singto takes his Shillong Lajong side. Currently in eighth compared to Mumbai FC’s sixth, the visitors seem to be struggling.
Their chequered form consists of a good win over Dempo SC at home but that was followed by utter capitulations against East Bengal and Sporting Goa. The finally managed to redeem themselves with a draw against United SC in the last fixture.
However deeper problems need to be fixed and Singto will know that. A facet of this Mumbai team seems to be the apparent formation change that foxes the opponents. Cornell Glen, who recently recovered his scoring touch, will no doubt feature. Another feather in the cap will be the form of Seikhohao Tuboi, who is improving per game after returning from a lengthy injury layoff.
“This has been the problem for Shillong teams. Now Rangdajied [United] has come, so I think they will face the same problem that we have been facing. Long journeys take a toll on the players. You think that you can recover, but the recovery doesn't happen [quickly]. So when you're going for a match after long travel, it affects the game, but we try our best," clarified Singto on his visit to Mumbai.
Lajong hold the edge over Mumbai, a slender one, with three wins over Mumbai’s two in their last five encounters. That however will be quickly forgotten as both teams take to the pitch to prove a point on their I-League aims.
With all to play for, Mumbai might just spark into life while the same could be said about Shillong Lajong. The only real winner here will be the football aficionado’s if that happens.
How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.