Talking Point: Mandar Rao Dessai set to become first player with 100 Hero ISL appearances

Mandar Rao Dessai will become the first player ever to make 100 appearances in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) when Mumbai City FC take on SC East Bengal at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Tuesday. If the Indian international is involved in the game – which is most likely – he will become the first player to do so in league history and the 28-year-old will want to make it a night to remember against an SC East Bengal side in search of their first points this season. Here we look at some of the talking points from Tuesday’s clash.

Mandar to become first player with 100 Hero ISL appearances

Part of the Hero ISL in all seven seasons so far, Mandar has demonstrated his versatile nature in the league over the years by successfully transforming from a winger to a full-back during his time with FC Goa. Mandar was an ever-present in the starting XI while with FC Goa, first for Zico and then Sergio Lobera. Part of the Goa squad that won the Hero Super Cup in 2019 and then the first ever Hero ISL League Winners Shield, Mandar enjoyed plenty of success and tasted silverware with the Gaurs.

Now with Mumbai City FC, Mandar will be aiming to win his first Hero ISL trophy and he shared his thoughts on making 100 appearances in the league during the Islanders’ pre-match press conference ahead of their clash against SC East Bengal. “The next game will be my 100th in the Hero ISL. I dedicate this to all the players I have played with and the coaches who have helped me to play in this league. As a player it is very important to achieve this in the league. There are so many players who have been playing from the very start of the Hero ISL,” he said.

Hugo Boumous needs to link up with Mumbai’s strikers

A major reason for FC Goa enjoying a strong 2019-20 season was the brilliant link-up play between Hugo Boumous and Ferran Corominas. Now with a new club, Boumous has found it difficult to form a similar partnership with either Adam le Fondre or Bartholomew Ogbeche so far. Although Boumous is yet to show his real potential with Mumbai City, he is still their top chance creator (12).

The 25-year-old midfielder has the second most passes for his side this season (136) with 24 of those coming in the attacking third, the most by any Mumbai player. The Islanders’ head coach Lobera will be hoping that Boumous settles with his new side soon as Mumbai look to find their stride in Hero ISL 2020-21.

Anthony Pilkington and Matti Steinmann hold the key in midfield

Although SC East Bengal suffered a loss in their first-ever Hero ISL game against ATK Mohun Bagan, Robbie Fowler's men have plenty of positives to work with. SC East Bengal had more possession against their rivals, and this could prove to be crucial against a Mumbai side that also loves to keep the ball. Anthony Pilkington looked lively in the game against ATK Mohun Bagan and he will shoulder the responsibility of being SC East Bengal’s creative spark. The Irishman was responsible for both his side’s shots on target in the last game and created some good chances.

Matti Steinmann is another crucial player for the Kolkata giants. The German midfielder Steinmann attempted three tackles against ATK Mohun Bagan and was successful with two of them. Steinmann’s three interceptions and eight recoveries were also the most by an SC East Bengal player. Like Pilkington, Steinmann will have a crucial role to play as he looks to shield SC East Bengal’s backline against Mumbai’s talented attackers.

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