We’re fighting for the double: Mumbai City FC captain Mourtada Fall
Mumbai City FC defender Mourtada Fall marked his 50th appearance for the club in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) in their comprehensive 4-0 win over NorthEast United FC at the Mumbai Football Arena, on Thursday. The 35-year-old helped his side keep a clean sheet against NorthEast United FC in what was a special evening for him.
Fall joined Mumbai City FC ahead of the 2020-21 season, following the footsteps of his former FC Goa head coach, Sergio Lobera, and joined the Islanders. He was one of the main architects behind Mumbai City FC’s historic Hero ISL double that season as the Islanders became the first side to claim the League Winners' Shield and the Hero ISL title. In the summer of 2021, the Senegalese defender was named as the club’s new captain following the departure of Amrinder Singh to ATK Mohun Bagan.
Despite being a defender, Fall is also known for his goal-scoring prowess from set-pieces. Over his three seasons with MCFC, he has netted seven times and provided one assist.
“I'm happy to play 50 games for Mumbai City FC. I always try to give my best to the team and this is the important (thing). I’m looking forward to starting more games again and give more to the team,” Fall told indiansuperleague.com in an exclusive interview after the match.
Fall’s gametime has been cut short this season with the Senegalese facing tough competition from his fellow centre-back Rostyn Griffiths. Across 11 games this season, Fall has played just under 500 minutes, but he remains confident on giving his best whenever called upon.
“Of course, we (myself and Griffiths) push each other. We train in the same way and try to maintain our professionalism and then it is up to the head coach to decide who he wants to start. But our job at Mumbai City FC is to work hard. We’re professional players. We don’t need anyone to support or motivate us. Even if we or don’t play, we try to keep the same mentality,” he stated.
Mumbai City FC broke many records under Sergio Lobera and now they are repeating the same under Des Buckingham. On a league record of 10 straight wins, the Islanders are on course to finish the season unbeaten. Fall shed light on how the club's mentality to win trophies remains the same since he joined the Islanders.
“They are two different teams. Two different coaches. But the most important (thing) is that we have the same objective and that is to win trophies. The same was with Lobera and now with Des (Buckingham) also. We want to keep going until we win trophies with the club,” Fall said.
"Motivation is what keeps us going. Players want to break records. You need to have that anger and show aggression. You have to be working hard to get more and more,” he added.
The Islanders have been on a roll, recording just two draws in their 15 games while winning the rest. They have been a fiery goalscoring side, netting a league high 45 goals, besides having kept seven clean sheets so far, second only to Hyderabad FC, who have kept eight clean sheets.
“It is very important not only to score goals, but to keep clean sheets as well. Because in football, you never know. We’re fighting for the double. It's two different things, but not so easy. So we’re keeping focusing on them one by one,” said Fall.
With only five games left to go and still unbeaten, Mumbai City FC have the change to finish the league unbeaten, something that has never been done before. Buckingham's side are points ahead of second-placed Hyderabad FC and face Jamshedpur FC in their next challenge. Fall clarified that the team is focusing game by game and not looking too far ahead.
“We’re focusing on scoring goals and keeping clean sheets. We are taking it game by game. We’re not thinking about it (being Invincibles). We need to be switched on and we need to keep going,” he concluded.