Mumbai City FC overcame FC Goa with a 5-2 aggregate in a two-leg Indian Super League (ISL) semi-final, setting the stage for an exciting final against Mohun Bagan Super Giant on May 4 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata.

Midfielder Yoell van Nieff was a key contributor to Mumbai City FC's semi-final victory. The Dutchman played a crucial role in the opening goal as his set-piece delivery found Rahul Bheke, whose attempt was cleared off the line, only for Jorge Diaz to score the opener.

Playing his debut ISL season with the Islanders, Nieff took on the challenging role that Ahmed Jahouh had previously held for Mumbai City FC. This was no small task, given Jahouh's reputation as one of the best midfielders in the league. Nieff had to adapt to a new team, a new continent, and the unique demands of his position.

Despite these challenges, the 30-year-old has proven to be a standout player for Mumbai City FC, showcasing his expertise in controlling the tempo and his precision in set-piece delivery. Nieff has become an integral part of the Islanders' midfield, demonstrating his value through consistent performances.

His statistics reflect his impact: Nieff has recorded 723 successful passes, averaging 45 passes per game with an 83% accuracy rate. Additionally, he has won 83 duels (21 aerial), made 15 interceptions, and completed 130 recoveries in his 19 appearances for Mumbai City FC.

However, in a setback for Mumbai City FC will miss Van Nieff in the high-pressure final against Mohun Bagan SG due to a yellow card received during the FC Goa match.

After the semi-final, Van Nieff spoke with, sharing his thoughts on the semi-final against FC Goa, the upcoming final in Kolkata, and other insights into the team's journey to the ISL final.


What was your takeaway from your recent defeat against Mohun Bagan SG in Kolkata, and how has your team rectified those mistakes in the FC Goa game?

I think we also learned from the (last) Kolkata game (when we played there) for the Shield. We learned from this as well. Of course, we were 1-0 up, but we just wanted to approach it like every other game. But they (FC Goa) did really well. We had almost no options for playing football. So, the pressure from them was quite good. It was really hard for us. I think we were a bit nervous in the beginning because even we couldn't find the option, but I think after all, we came slowly into the game and did better, especially in the second half. We had a bit more space. I think we took advantage of this, and then at the end you could see (the final result). Even I'm happy that I could be involved with the set pieces. I think they (the set pieces) were really good today, so I'm really happy with that. And, yeah, the support was also amazing today. That helped us last. In the end, I think we deserved to win and go to the final.

How significant is it to capitalise on dead-ball situations?

Of course, we analyse every game. We also know that we can be really dangerous, not only in this game but in every game. My part is to have a good delivery (which is a big job) and to work together. Like, have a good delivery, and of course, like, good runners. Everything has to work together. So it worked really, really well. My deliveries were good, and the runners were good, but I think we scored maybe two less, actually. So, I'm really happy with that. Especially when we analyse during meetings, there is always a mention that it can always be like one chance, and that can be a set piece. So, these are really important. We take care of that, and it's important for us. And now you see this game as well. We scored and I think from there on, we killed the game.

Will the thousands of Mohun Bagan SG supporters be a problem for Mumbai City FC in the final?

I think the crowd is not so important. We need to approach every game as (we did for) all the games. We learned from the last time. So I think we really will be really sharp for the next game, for the final, because it's something (big). It's a trophy to win. So, yeah, we’ll start from zero, they will start from zero, and there is everything to play for. I have confidence in this team, and hopefully we can get the trophy.

What is your assessment of your team's overall performance this season and the Indian players?

We know we have a really good team. I think even though we had setbacks this season, we deserve more. Even with all the setbacks, we have stuck together. Our togetherness is really strong, and it’s one of our key qualities. Even with the setbacks, I think we just had a really good season. But, of course, it will be a better season if we come home with a trophy. In my opinion, we have the best wingers in the league for India as well. And I think they showed, especially (Lallianzuala) Chhangte and Vikram (Partap Singh), who have scored a lot.

Chhangte is leading with overall goals and assists. I think the numbers are really good. And I'm personally really happy with them because they helped us a lot during the season. Not only these two, but Bipin (Singh) is also really important. We did it as a team because we are a team. Maybe some people are more important for defence, and some other people can be really important for offense. I think the balance was really good this season. It's a bit unfair to point out only one player. I think we are doing really well as a team. That's the most important thing.

How much have you enjoyed the fan support at the Mumbai Football Arena?

To be honest, I enjoyed every match that we played at home. If it was in the beginning in Pune, you know, like the AFC Champions League matches, even if it (the stadium) was far away, the were fans there. Of course, it was not like that much that we wanted to. We all understand it because, like traveling and stuff like this, it's not easy. And even though it was like midweek, people were working and stuff like this.

But always, when we come here (the Mumbai Football Arena), the support that we have already been getting since we arrived is huge. Even on the pitch, you hear it really loud. Of course, the stadium is not that big; it's a bit crowded. I enjoyed every minute when we played at home; it really felt like coming home. Especially the support that I got personally, I enjoyed it. To be honest, for me, it’s always enjoyable to come here (in Mumbai) to play in front of the home fans.