Mumbai City FC deservedly qualified for the play-offs of the Indian Super League after glimpses of some tremendous defensive performances. Another unique achievement that deserves attention is the fact that unlike most clubs, Mumbai did not sign any foreign player mid-season.
They have shown immense faith in their overseas players throughout the season. Rafael Bastos, Modou Sougou, Matias Mirabaje, Paulo Machado, Arnold Issoko and Lucian Goian have formed the core of the team and have all impressed with their sustained quality and consistency.
The key foreigners have not suffered any major injuries and hence relieved the management of having to hunt for replacements.
When compared against the teams who have qualified for the play-offs, Mumbai City come clean as the only team that have not signed a foreign player mid-season.
League leaders Bengaluru FC chose to off-load former I-League star Chencho Gyeltshen and rope in Spaniard Luisma Villa. The Bhutanese winger was found to be incompatible in coach Carles Cuadrat’s system and was hence sent on a loan to NEROCA FC for the rest of the season. An injury to Erik Paartalu forced them to acquire the signature of Alex Barrera just for the knockout games.
All the players recruited for Mumbai have been carefully picked in such a way that their skill-sets are in line with coach Jorge Costa’s philosophy.
Dutchman Eelco Schattorie has done a great job getting NorthEast United to the play-offs despite having the smallest budget in the league. However, he too had to dive into the winter transfer market in order to strengthen his squad albeit due to injuries suffered by Augustine Okrah and Mislav Koorksi. Panagiotis Triadis was signed from Apollon Smyrnis and the winger has registered himself as a regular ever since. Defender Janeilos Rivas was also brought in.
The fact that Mumbai have not signed foreigners mid-season points to two things. Firstly, the recruitment system was top-notch and the players who would fit into Jorge Costa’s system were carefully identified and roped in.
Secondly, the players have performed very well and made the recruitment system seem flawless. The likes of Issoko, Sougou and Goian have played a massive role in ensuring that Mumbai make it to the play-offs and the management’s trust in the players is justified.