Touted on a fairly widespread basis as a team likely to be battling against the drop this season, Mumbai FC have stunned Indian football media by mounting a strong challenge. After nine games, they find themselves seven points behind the table toppers in the sixth spot and have a game in hand.
Mumbai FC may not be one of the most flamboyant sides in Indian football but they have gone about their business in the I-League having only lost their opening two fixtures. Thereafter, it’s been a string of draws and victories and Khalid Jamil’s boys are on the upswing.
A well organised side, Mumbai FC broke Salgaocar’s hearts with a 2-1 victory on their home ground after a so-so performance. Their midfield didn’t function to its best capacity as they sat back and allowed the opposition to attack them, which is always a bad ploy especially in the second half.
Last season, Mumbai FC did a double over the Kolkata side and that shall give them an upper hand going into Saturday’s game.
When East Bengal’s forward line is shut out, it translates to either the opposition having played exceptionally well or just that the Red and Gold’s have failed to produce a decent performance. It’s just that this has happened on quite a number of occasions this season as they have managed a paltry eleven goals to show in nine matches.
This would probably be a cause of concern for coach De Ridder. In the Federation Cup which they won, they could score a meagre four goals in as many matches, leaving aside the final which was only decided on penalties.
Faced with the prospect of moving up in the table last week, they squandered their opportunity against Chirag United and now find themselves six points adrift the league leaders.
East Bengal were surprisingly stifled by Chirag United, a side known for its defensive resilience. It was learnt that the Kolkata side weren’t clinical enough and were bungled down far too easily.
Their form on the road has been better than at home, having won two, drawn and lost one each. The last time they travelled, they broke their Cooperage deadlock, where they hadn’t won an I-League game for long, at the expense of Air India.
Jan 8, 2010 Mumbai FC 2-1 Salgaocar SC (I-League)
Dec 26 2009 Mumbai FC 4-2 HAL (Federation Cup)
Dec 23 2009 Mumbai FC 0-1 Churchill Brothers (Federation Cup)
Jan 9 2010 Chirag United 1-0 East Bengal (I-League)
Jan 3 2010 East Bengal 3-0 (pen) Shillong Lajong (Federation Cup)
Dec 31 2009 East Bengal 2-0 Mohun Bagan (Federation Cup)
Defender Bernard Achaw, who was suspended is back in contention for a starting spot though his replacement Peter Siddique had a good outing. Prem Kumar is also fit enough to be back in the scheme of things for the Mumbai club.
Mehrajuddin Wadoo returns at the back after serving a one game suspension and shall hope to continue the good performance of the Federation Cup. Renedy Singh hasn’t travelled with the team to Mumbai.
Players To Watch
Mumbai FC - Evans Quao:
The right back is one of the most enthusiastic players in the Mumbai FC line-up as he joins the attacks at every instant, and at the same time covering his defensive duties well. East Bengal have every reason to be wary of this player.
East Bengal- Abel Hammond
The former Mumbai FC striker scored the winner against East Bengal at the Cooperage in the 88th minute last season. Now it’s time to serve his new club and the Ghanaian wouldn’t hesitate one bit as he shall come on the field with a point to prove.
One look at the statistics of the two sides and one realises, there isn’t much to choose from. While East Bengal have conceded a goal less than Mumbai FC, the Mumbai club have scored one more than the Kolkata giants. It wouldn’t be hard to predict that a lone goal would turn out to be the deciding factor or probably, even none, which the spectators wouldn’t want to see.
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