As the latest edition of the I-League sets sail, the Mumbaikars will hope to flag-off their latest expedition by dousing the Flaming Oranges at home
Two seasons ago Mumbai clawed their way back from the brink of relegation and took their recovery further, managing to establish themselves by finishing an improved and creditable eighth in the standings. However, a new season brings new hope and Mumbai will hope to build on their success last season and push on for a top four finish or risk facing a performance drop that could lead them back to a relegation scrap.
Khalid Jamil is again at the helm of Mumbai FC, and his primary task shall continue to be to keep the club in the I-League, and everything thereafter being a bonus. Besides having a coach who knows the canons for survival and performance in the league, the team are beribboned with the likes of Climax Lawrence, his Dempo teammate Valerino Rebello and Anwar Ali to name a few.
Now with the likes of Jayesh Rane, who is likely to profit after the attacker showed great signs of promise last term, the team have a glazed look about them.
Sporting Goa, on the other hand, have been equally cautious in their preparations for the upcoming I-League season. It was Oscar Barreras, the Spanish coach, who led the team to put in consistent performances in the second half of the season which helped them finish sixth on the table, after they initiated a disastrous start to the league last year, skirting with relegation all too soon.
The signings of Deepak Devrani, goalkeeper Ravi Kumar (both from Pailan Arrows), striker Beevan D'Mello and midfielder Cajetan Fernandes (both from Salgaocar FC) along with the Spaniards - midfielder Arturo Navarro García and center-back Gonzalo Hinojal Neila - give an impermeable look to the squad.
Sporting Clube de Goa have retained only one foreigner from the last season in Ogba Kalu Nnanna while Japanese striker Seiya Sugishita and the Spanish duo of Juan Pena and Angel Berlanga saw their contracts not being extended.
Mumbai FC are a team that loves to counter-attack. Khalid Jamil likes to experiment with a 3-5-2, but generally starts a season with a 4-4-2 formation. Sporting play an attacking brand of football, with an emphasis to keep the ball on the ground.
“If you ask me about the formation, I would say that a 4-3-2-1 [for] defending and a 4-1-4-1 [for] attacking, are the models we want to work with. And then also when Victorino [Fernandes] comes up, I like to play a 4-4-2, but then it depends on the type of game that we want to play," clarified Oscar Barreras.
"We expect a game against a team whose physical aspect is their main strength. Knowing it we must be tough, competitive, intensive and intelligent from them by having more control of the ball during the game," he mentioned.
Climax Lawrence though, still has plenty left in the tank, and Khalid Jamil will be grateful to have a playmaker of his quality and experience, pulling the strings in the middle for him.
"Sporting are a good team and are in good form in the Goa League. We hope for a positive start against them," said Jamil.
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