Des Buckingham Interview: AFC Champions League will be an exciting challenge for Mumbai City FC
Des Buckingham joined Mumbai City FC, ahead of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 campaign, after making a name for himself in the A-League with sides like Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne City.
Though the Islanders had a fairly mediocre season as they failed to qualify for the semi-finals, the 37-year-old needs time to fully embibe his playing style on the team. With additional time to prepare, the Englishman has the opportunity to create history with MCFC in the AFC Champions League.
Des Buckingham sat down for an exclusive interview with the Hero ISL Media Team ahead of their AFC Champions League campaign where he talked about the confidence in the camp, their opponents, changes from the Hero ISL, and much more!
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
A landmark in the club's history to play in the AFC Champions League. How is the mood in the team?
The mood is extremely good. We've had two weeks preparing as well as we can in Abu Dhabi, we played two very tough and challenging games, and the players performed extremely well. So that two-week camp was there to prepare us for as far as we can go into this competition in the Champions League. And I'm very happy with how the players have adapted to that. I'm very happy with the space that we are in leading into this game.
Will we see any changes with respect to your style of play from the Hero ISL?
I was very happy about how we went about some of the style of play, but we needed to be more consistent in the ISL. Coming to this level of competition, we need to also now be smart with how we play and that's what we have been working on in the last two and a half weeks and something that the time we've had together again. We're as prepared as we can be for that. So we'll have to be smart. But I also want players that we have here to show how good they can be. So we need to not just worry about how we play out of our possession. But I want the players to be able to express themselves and show what Indian players can do on this stage.
What do you make of the opponents in the group?
They are extremely strong clubs and clubs that have got a real deep history in this competition, let alone their own competition. And they can perform consistently well in these competitions. So it will be a challenge. But that, for me, is an exciting challenge. It's not one to be scared off. I've worked long enough with these players over the last seven months to show that they are good enough and they can compete. They have shown that at the Hero ISL level and we've certainly shown that in the two preceding friendly games that we've had leading into this competition. So it's one of excitement.
How big of a confidence boost are the two friendlies for the players?
We played two teams because we knew that they'd give us a real challenge. And it was an exposure to the type of football and playing style that we may come up against in the Champions League. And I was really pleased with how the players adapted and not just competed, but performed against those two teams. And again, it was part of the process to get us ready for this game. And I'm convinced that it has helped us get to a good space.
The team conceded a few goals through defensive errors in the Hero ISL. Have you come up with a solution to fix this issue?
We've worked on our overall game plan, both with and without the ball coming into this level of competition, you're going to need to be very clever, and very smart about how you approach each game. And moments in the game, whether it be defensively or an offense will be hugely important to decide the outcome. So we've worked on not just our defensive side of our game, but also our attacking style, because, again, we want to show how good we can be. But we also need to recognise that defensively, we can't give opportunities and our goal too often.
Any update on Rowlin Borges? Will he be available for the first game?
Unfortunately, we brought Rowlin here, not in a playing capacity. He still has got a month or two as part of his recovery. Rowlin has been brought here to make sure that his recovery can be as good as it can to get him back for the start of the Hero ISL season. But also he is a leader, he is the vice-captain of this club and is a hugely respected person within our group. So we brought me here for that role, especially with those young players to be able to work with and to help provide some further advice and support.
Will we see any changes to the starting 11 as compared to the Hero ISL?