Mumbai City FC look to employ similar success formula, retain core players
While scoring goals aplenty is pivotal for a team to stay at the top in any league, there has to be an equally strong backbone to ensure they don’t ship in too many.
During the 2016 Hero Indian Super League (ISL) campaign, Mumbai City FC qualified for the semi-finals for the first time, and they did it after having topped the standings during the league phase. A major share of the reason for their success was down to the fact that they had the meanest defence, conceding the least number of goals (11) in the entire league.
A formidable backline comprising of Lucian Goian and Gerson Vieira kept opponent attackers at bay, while Aiborlang Khongjee, as a right-back, used the width to good effect and picked up an assist as well last season. The rock solid defensive assurance helped striker Diego Forlan notch up important goals upfront. Both Goian and Vieira were also offensive threats from set-pieces, making good use of their physical presence in the opponent’s box, and they both managed a goal apiece last year. The Romanian Goian though, was the standout defender of the entire tournament, putting in the maximum number of tackles (79) and interceptions (34) in the entire league.
Add to that, goalkeeper Amrinder Singh played only his team’s last six matches, and kept clean sheets in five of them, making him the obvious receiver of the Golden Glove award.
This season, the Mumbaikars have retained their core and they almost have their entire defence from the previous season intact, with the trio of Goian, Vieira and Khongjee signed up for the upcoming season, while Amrinder too will be plying his trade for Mumbai again.
Their midfield was also an immensely effective unit, with Vieira’s fellow Brazilian Leo Costa taking forward key attacks and feeding handy balls to strikers. Costa bagged two goals and notched up an assist in last season’s campaign, and the 31-year-old is another important player who will stick with the Mumbai side.
While Costa shouldered the responsibility of using offense from midfield, Sehnaj Singh, another player retained, performed his defensive duties in the middle of the park to a tee. His crucial tackles and interceptions were responsible for breaking up many a dangerous build-up and counter-play.
With five of their main players retained, Mumbai City FC are clearly trying to keep the chemistry from the previous season intact as they aim for the title. Given these players’ performances last season, it should take them little to no time to get into stride and once again build the team to become a strong unit.