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ISL 2019/20: Jorge Costa and Mumbai City have a task on their hands

08:45 BST 19/10/2019
Jorge Costa Mumbai City
Jorge Costa's side can be trusted to forge a fighting unit that can be hard to beat...

Mumbai City FC exceeded expectations in the 2018/19 edition of the Indian Super League (ISL), making the play-offs ahead of teams such as Chennaiyin FC, Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters who were tipped to put on a better show.

Coach Jorge Costa and his brigade of overseas players played a key role in turning the season around after a humiliating 5-0 defeat against FC Goa in the initial rounds of the season.

This stirred a response from the Islanders, as they kept a clean-sheet in each of their next four games and avoided defeat in nine games before they locked horns with Goa yet again.

Although the Indian players played their part, overseas players such as Lucian Goian, Arnold Issoko, Modou Sougou and Rafael Bastos were pivotal in Mumbai’s successful season.

It does not help Mumbai’s case ahead of the new season that Goian, Issoko and Bastos are not a part of the club anymore. Goian was a key figure in Mumbai’s sturdy defence that let in just 20 goals in 18 games in the league phase last season.

Issoko was involved in nine of the 25 goals Mumbai scored last season, thus stamping authority in the final third. The departure of such key players is bound to affect any team.

However, Jorge Costa is a shrewd tactician and has shown last season that he knows how to forge a tightly-knit unit. Expect the Portuguese to drill a highly-organised mentality into his team this season as well.

For example, the signing of India international and former NorthEast United FC midfielder Rowllin Borges promises to unlock a lot of possibilities in midfield. The 27-year-old developed very well under Eelco Schattorie and also adds a goal threat from midfield.

Former Highlanders defender Mato Grgic, Real Kashmir midfielder Surchandra Singh, India international Sarthak Golui and Brazil winger Diego Carlos are other arrivals at the Mumbai Arena that bring a lot of promise in the squad.

Clearly, Mumbai City have made a few alterations to their squad. The Portuguese manager has a lot of work to do, as he attempts to incorporate the newcomers and make up for the star departures.