Equations for Mumbai City FC will be simple when they host NorthEast United FC for their final home game of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 season on Thursday.
Having secured a vital win to stay alive in the playoff races in their last encounter against the ATK, the same agenda is on Alexandre Guimaraes’ mind for Thursday’s clash.
“First of all it’s good to be alive, right? We come here knowing that we still have a chance. We have to play even better to try to win tomorrow against a team who have played well but didn’t have the luck to get better results from their games. I hope tomorrow that finally, we can win a game at home, which for us, besides the importance to continue on the fight, is a chance to give a present to our fans. Because it is not usual, the kind of contrast we have away from home. We will have to see tomorrow,” the Mumbai City coach stated at the pre-match press conference.
The win against ATK came after frustrating losses at home against Jamshedpur FC and FC Pune City and Guimaraes explained what had changed.
“The only thing that changed for us is that the difference between last game and other games is that the chances we had, more or less we converted. We continued to play well and we won. Of course, this gives an extra confidence to the players but our understanding of how you have to play continues to be the same. The only difference is we won the last game and lost the other two games we played here previously,” the Costa Rican explained.
The Mumbai tactician said that his side will need to replicate their game intelligence from the Jamshedpur side against a much improved NortEast outfit.
“Someone has to win tomorrow as we know that we cannot even draw. We know we have to go and play a very intelligent game. For example, last game they tried to invite us to attack with too many players so that they can have gaps to counterattack. We didn’t do that, we continued to attack while defending well. That will be what we need to do tomorrow do. I hope we can win tomorrow. It doesn’t matter If they lost at home, they played well. They are trying to play a different game compared to the earlier coach. The change in their game is there,” Guimaraes said.
He also explained the nature of Lucian Goian’s injury and expects him to be available for the tie on Thursday.
“It’s an injury that is very sensitive. Most of the top level athletes have to play without being 100 percent. But sometimes, there are some points in your muscles which hurt you and this is the case with him. So we thought and have been very patient, to give him time to get completely well to play and last game he helped us in the last minute. After that, during the practice here, he didn’t feel any pain. So let’s hope that tomorrow he can play,” the tactician said.
Despite their troubles this season, the Mumbai coach feels the franchise has come a long way in the two years since his appointment.
Speaking about the improvement, he said, “I think the pressure will be higher if we coaches see our team not playing well. Then in our case, we would be much more reason to worry. That’s what I have been saying, from last season to this season, I think we are in a position to find a spot in the playoffs.”
“But also, it is very important after these two seasons, Mumbai City have established their position in the ISL. Now when we talk about Mumbai, all of the fans recognize what we are doing with the team. This is fantastic that we are still alive and can qualify.
“When I came here, the goal was to establish this franchise as a competitive football team and I think we have achieved that. Not matter if we don’t qualify, we continue to be on this path of learning. Also to give a present to our fans who have been great for us. We want them to be happy after the game although we still have two more games to play.”
Asked about the injury situation ahead of the important clash, Guimaraes said, “We do have some injuries and we will need to take a final call on them tomorrow. I think Lucian is already good. We have to see the Theo Costa situation. We have the Balwant (Singh) situation where he cannot play since he has four yellow cards.”
“It’s a situation which obliges us to do better but we have been competing through the beginning with these types of situations. Till now, from the beginning, I didn't have the whole squad for a game or my eight foreigners for a game. But we have dealt with it and will continue to do so,” he added before signing off.