Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham’s appointment as the successor of former head coach Sergio Lobera was a challenging one, especially after the latter’s historic and iconic triumph in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2020-21 season, winning the double - the League Winners’ Shield as well as the title.

Brought in as a manager that can emulate Lobera’s attacking philosophy in his own manner and style, Buckingham got off to a quick start in the 2021-22 campaign but met with a premature end as Mumbai City FC failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

However, Buckingham continued to mould the players with his attractive attacking brand of football. The Englishman created history within the first season as his side became the first Indian team to win a match in the AFC Champions League as they finished second in the table, recording two wins, one draw, and three losses.

Ahead of the 2022-23 season, Buckingham chose to make slight modifications to his team as he kept the Indian contingent of his squad largely intact and retained foreign players Ahmed Jahouh and Mourtada Fall. He brought reinforcements in the foreign department, reeling in experienced league players such as Hero of the League winner Greg Stewart, Alberto Noguera, and Jorge Pereyra Diaz. He also added a Hero ISL newcomer in Australian recruit Rostyn Griffiths.

Des Buckingham’s men started their Hero ISL 2022-23 campaign with a pulsating match against defending champions Hyderabad FC that ended in a 3-3 draw. In the following game against Odisha FC, the Islanders got their first victory of the season.   

Practising and perfecting the philosophy, style, and tactics laid by Buckingham through each passing game, the Islanders went unbeaten in their first 18 games. They became the fastest team to be crowned as the League Shield winners, with two league games remaining in the season. They defeated FC Goa 5-3 to become the earliest Hero ISL Shield winners in history.

The League champions now take the field against a relentless Bengaluru FC in the semi-finals. The Blues got past Kerala Blasters FC in a 1-0 victory in the knockout fixture at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on March 3.

Key stats in Hero ISL 2022-23:

Matches: 20; Wins: 14; Draws: 4; Losses: 2; Goals scored: 54; Goals conceded: 21; Points: 46

Tactical Profile

Throughout the entire season, the Islanders have proven themselves as a fearsome and lethal attacking team that is multifaceted with a diversified range of offensive options. They have shown different ways of scoring through build-up play, counter-attack, and set-pieces and have found favourable results. 

There are two modes of attack. Ahmed Jahouh and Lalengmawia Ralte (Apuia) freeing Bipin Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte in the wide space by overloading themselves down the middle either by taking shots or making room and setting up Greg Stewart or Jorge Diaz, who drops a little deeper. 

The second mode is cleverly using Stewart’s proficiency in dribbling. His silky smooth take-ons in 1v1 situations open up a wide variety of options to choose from, which includes either playing a one-two with other players or putting across a line-breaking pass, which his teammates capitalise on.

Also known for their high-intensity pressing, the Islanders tend to win the ball in the opposition’s defensive third. With the help of a quick front three in Bipin Singh, Jorge Diaz, and Lallianzuala Chhangte, the side effectively puts pressure on the opposition.

Buckingham sets his team up in a 4-3-3 formation and has played 19 out of the 20 games with this formation. The system, more or less, remains the same despite substitutions during the matches. Only in the home game against Kerala Blasters FC the Englishman has opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation. 



Mumbai City FC have scored the most goals from crosses this season (13). The presence of dynamic wingers like Bipin and Chhangte makes the Islanders threatening from wide areas. Both the wingers have terrific speed, and for their advantage, they can cut inside to shoot or go wide to deliver a cross from the flanks. While the entire team operates to find the back of the net, the two wingers are incredibly crucial in the process.



Cross per 90 min

Cross completion

Cross Completion %

Mumbai City FC





Bipin Singh 





Lallianzuala Chhangte





As seen from the table above, Bipin and Chhangte make up for half of the Mumbai City FC crosses, thereby posing a threatening duo for the opposition.

Phil Brown’s analysis: They have got the ability to score more goals than the opposition at any stage of the game. They have such strong firepower in Chhangte, Bipin, Pereyra Diaz, Greg Stewart, and Noguera, and that is their strength. 

Greg Stewart’s line-breaking passes and combination with other attackers:

The Hero of the League winner of the previous season has been shining brighter ever since he joined the Islanders’ camp. His 14 goal contributions comprising seven goals and as many assists have been one of the leading factors in Mumbai City FC’s record-breaking Shield triumph. Stewart’s tremendous intelligence and game-reading skills free him from his markers to find pockets of space between the attack and the defence. 

With his terrific peripheral vision, Stewart always finds Bipin and Chhangte on the outside or Diaz and Apuia in the middle. The Scotsman can expose bad defensive shapes by making line-breaking passes in space to his attacking teammates. Further, the 32-year-old’s late runs into the box pose additional risk for the opposition with his clinical finishing ability.

Paul Masefield’s analysis: Mumbai City FC’s strength is the unity amongst the team. They have been together now for two seasons and have just chopped and changed a couple of players, but the whole core of the side is stuck together, and I think that is one of their biggest strengths.

Their ability to have a plan B of Des mixing things up, changing the formation and how they play during the game is another vital aspect of the team. Their ability to win the league after going almost the entire season unbeaten shows great mental strength. 

Jorge Pereyra Diaz Inclusion:

In the latter part of last season, the Islanders struggled to convert their chances, which proved detrimental to their pursuit of silverware. With the signing of Jorge Pereyra Diaz, the striker completed the lethal attack and glued the team together and made it fluid. The midfield of Jahouh and Stewart and wide players like Bipin and Chhangte, can create chances, and Diaz has filled the missing void by converting those chances.

The Argentine has scored 11 goals this season and is in contention to win the Golden Boot. Apart from his goalscoring abilities, Diaz has been an extremely hardworking player with an immense work rate. His ability to play across the frontline helps him set up his attackers, leading him to provide six assists. However, pressing is yet another important part of his game. The 32-year-old is the focal point when it comes to pressing, which has helped the team win possession in key areas of the pitch. The Shield winners have scored 11 goals on the counter, and Diaz has played a vital role in that.

Erik Paartalu analysis: Mumbai City FC are good starters of the game, dominant in possession, and kill the game off early. They have a tireless worker up top in Jorge Diaz, who is the catalyst for this side to press, get forward, and support wherever necessary. They calmly play through pressure, especially through the middle third.


Defensive set-piece weakness:

The Islanders have arguably had one of the best seasons in Hero ISL history, with opposition teams unable to find flaws in their offence or defence. However, the side has conceded eight of their 21 goals via set-pieces. Out of those eight, three are from corners, two each from free-kicks and throw-ins, and one from a penalty.

The main pattern from these goals is the side’s inability to win the aerial duels, either in the first or second ball. Five of these eight goals are scored or set up by headers.

Uncertainty in the left-back position:

Des Buckingham has kept almost the same starting eleven throughout the season, apart from the forced changes. However, there was one such position where he frequently switched: the left-back position. Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Mandar Rao Dessai, and Sanjeev Stalin have all played a part there. The Englishman changed his left-back more frequently than any other position in his starting eleven, and he also rotated personnel there during the match's substitutions. 

Paul Masefield’s analysis: I think in the full-back positions, they’ll be hoping to have Rahul Bheke back in the right-back slot. I think there’s just a little chink in the armour, possibly down the left side, as they have played three of four players in that position, so there has been no stable left-back, and that could be their one slight weakness.

Player to watch out for:

Greg Stewart:

Stewart is the chief architect behind Des Buckingham’s attacking blueprint. Possessing exceptional quality in passing, crossing, creating chances, finishing chances, and the added ability to draw out defenders, the Scotsman has been a major asset in the team. His mere presence in the game is extremely crucial for the Islanders.

While he is yet to match his numbers from last season, the midfielder has shimmered in a new team, has become a mainstay, and is a proven game-changer that will be of utmost significance for the Islanders.

Paul Masefield’s analysis: He’s been absolutely fantastic. When it gets to the high pressure situations and the way the games will be, I expect Stewart to stand up, be counted, and be the one to watch out for sure.

Records and unique stats:

  • Most points in the league stage of a single season (46)
  • First team to win the Hero ISL Shield twice (2020-21 and 2022-23)
  • Most goals scored by a team in a single season of the Hero ISL (54)
  • Longest consecutive winning streak in Hero ISL (11 games)
  • Longest unbeaten streak in Hero ISL (18 games)
  • They had scored in 28 consecutive Hero ISL games before the defeat to EBFC – Longest goal scoring streak in Hero ISL 
  • Most goals by Indian players for a club in a Hero ISL season (25)
  • Most away wins for a team in a season (8)
  • Consecutive away win record (8 straight away wins)
  • Most goals scored by a team in away games in a season (30)
  • First team to top the league table thrice at the end of the season.
  • Most wins in a Hero ISL season league stage (14).
  • Best goal difference in the league stage of a Hero ISL season (+33)

Predicted starting XI vs Bengaluru FC:

Phurba Lachenpa (GK), Rahul Bheke (C), Mehtab Singh, Rostyn Griffiths, Vignesh Dakshinamurthy, Ahmed Jahouh, Apuia, Greg Stewart, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, and Bipin Singh.