Mumbai welcome NorthEast in a monumental clash for top four
After going on a nine-match unbeaten streak, Mumbai City FC seem to have lost their way, losing their last two matches without even scoring. The Islanders, currently in second, will be looking to shrug-off those disappointments when they go head-to-head against NorthEast United FC in their final home match of the league campaign at the Mumbai Football Arena on Wednesday.
Separated by just the three points, both teams are hopeful of making the playoffs with three matches to go in their league campaigns.
Jorge Costa’s team didn’t have the best of starts to their Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 campaign but did well to hang in there, before lighting up their season with their nine-match unbeaten run. However, since then, the Islanders have lost two consecutive matches against FC Goa and Jamshedpur FC.
Those losses haven’t exactly dented the Islanders’ playoff hopes though. Still in second and with 27 points, Costa and Co. are still one of the favourites to go through. Mumbai’s narrow 1-0 win over NorthEast in the reverse fixture in early November will also come as a major confidence booster for them.
Arnold Issoko’s return will be welcome relief for Costa ahead of tomorrow’s encounter. The fullback-turned-winger missed the Jamshedpur match with a minor injury, and Mumbai certainly missed his dynamism. In fact, it was Issoko’s fourth minute goal that helped the Islanders clinch all three points in Guwahati. However, with centre-back Lucian Goian missing the tie to a suspension and Subhasish Bose sidelined to an injury, it would be interesting to see how Costa tinkers around with his side on Wednesday.
Modou Sougou is another one of those looking a bit out-of-sorts for the Islanders. The striker was reigning supreme during Mumbai’s unbeaten run but hasn’t found the back of the net since before the winter break. As their season enters a defining period, the west-coast club will be banking on their top players to get back to their best as soon as possible.
Here’s a look at Mumbai’s current season in numbers:
A disappointing draw in the last match against Delhi Dynamos FC meant that the Highlanders have now won just one of their last seven Hero ISL matches. They currently occupy fourth place in the table with 24 points on the board. A win over the Islanders could see them go level with them on 27 points while a loss could be catastrophic.
However, in the larger scheme of things, this season has been a success story for Eelco Schattorie’s men. Despite having to work on a stricter budget compared to their rivals, the Highlanders have been immense, and as a result, are staring at their first-ever playoffs. Bartholomew Ogbeche and Federico Gallego have been at the centre of this revolution of sorts in Guwahati, contributing to more than half of their goals.
Ogbeche particularly, has been a fascinating watch. Now 34, the Nigerian has combined power, pace and strength to shackle even the best of Hero ISL defences. New-signing, Panagiotis Triadis hasn’t been disappointing either, but would be keen to brush-up his finishing skills after missing a relatively-comfortable chance against the Delhi Dynamos last time around.
The pressure will be on Schattorie’s team when they take to the field on Wednesday evening. Both Jamshedpur and ATK are now within sight and would be looking to pounce at the first calling. The Highlanders would once again be relying on their trio of attacking outlets to help them achieve their objectives.
Here’s a look at NorthEast’s current season in numbers:
NorthEast United FC: Pawan Kumar (GK), Reagan Singh, Mato Grgic, Robert Lalthlamuana, Redeem Tlang, Jose Leudo, Rowllin Borges, Federico Gallego, Panagiotis Triadis, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Bartholomew Ogbeche (C).
Mumbai City FC: Amrinder Singh (GK), Sauvik Chakrabarti, Marko Klisura, Anwar Ali, Subhasish Bose, Arnold Issoko, Raynier Fernandes, Milan Singh, Paulo Machado (C), Modou Sougou, Rafael Bastos.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Mumbai have scored the most number of goals from counter attacks this season (9).
- However, NorthEast United have conceded just 2 (12%) of their goals on counter attacks
- Mumbai are on a 5-match winning run vs NorthEast United (their best run vs any ISL
Which striker will prove to be the difference?
- Bartholomew Ogbeche
- Moudou Sougou
Have your say in the comments section below.
Watch the match live on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar and Jio Tv at 7.30 PM