An important point against a very good team: Mumbai City FC's Des Buckingham
Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham was satisfied with his team's performance as the Islanders played out a 1-1 draw against Hyderabad FC in the latest fixture of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena, in Mumbai, on Saturday.
“We kept pushing. It wasn’t meant to be. But it’s an important point.” 👊— Mumbai City FC (@MumbaiCityFC) February 4, 2023
🎥 | Coach Des Buckingham reacts on #TheIslanders’ being held to a draw at the Arena..🎙️#MCFCHFC #MumbaiCity #AamchiCity 🔵 pic.twitter.com/P23jjFC34X
Jorge Diaz opened the scoring for the home team from the penalty spot in the 23rd minute as Buckingham's men went into the break with the lead. Hyderabad FC started the second half on the front foot and Hitesh Sharma equalised for the visitors in the 65th minute, with Mohammad Yasir providing the assist. Both teams came close to scoring the second goal but had to content themselves with a single point.
The Islanders continue to march for the League Shield trophy, sitting seven points clear at the top with just three games left to play in the league. Meanwhile, Manolo Marquez's side continued their eight-match unbeaten and continue to remain in second place in the Hero ISL points table.
The result marked the second draw in the season between both teams with the reverse fixture ending 3-3 in October. Buckingham shed light on how it was an important point against a very good team and stated he was happy with the performance.
𝗙𝗨𝗟𝗟 𝗧𝗜𝗠𝗘 | 𝗠𝗖𝗙𝗖 1️⃣-1️⃣ 𝗛𝗙𝗖#TheIslanders continue their unbeaten run after a thrilling game ends with a point apiece at the Arena! 🏟️#MCFCHFC #MumbaiCity #AamchiCity 🔵 pic.twitter.com/f5VZ6MB3Je— Mumbai City FC (@MumbaiCityFC) February 4, 2023
"We've had three or four changes to our team again this week, to perform the way we did, which I see very similar things to what I have done in the last 16 or 17 games now, that was very pleasing because it shows that regardless of the changes, we make the players understand what we're trying to do, and regardless who we put in there, they're capable," Buckingham said in the official post-match press conference.
He added: "We deserved to go into half-time with the lead. For the second half, they started better than we did. And I think they had one shot on goal for the whole game on target and then scored it. We tried everything we could in the second half. We created as many chances as we could, we just couldn't find the winner. But overall, in terms of performance with the changes that we've had to make, from what I've just seen in terms of performance, very happy with it. It's an important point against a very good team, who are also challenging up there with us. So it just puts us in a stronger position for the final three matches."
It was a fixture between two of the best defensive teams in the Hero ISL this season. Both sides have registered a joint-high tally of seven clean sheets this campaign with Hyderabad FC conceding the fewest goals (10) and Mumbai City FC conceding the third-fewest goals (15). Buckingham was delighted with the defensive performances of his team this season and he explained how the team have improved in this aspect as compared to the last season.
"It's part of our game plan. Out of possession, we want to be a team that if we can, I want to win the ball back as far up the field as we can. The work rate and the desire that the players cover defensively is very good, so much better than last year. Whether we need to go on press or whether we sit in our compact block at some point in the midfield or we dropped deeper to defend our goal, it's a real desire this year to make sure that we don't concede not just goals, but shots on our goal. We need to be a lot better defensively than we were last year and so far this year, I'm very happy with that progress," Buckingham said.
The Islanders are unbeaten so far in the league with 13 wins and four draws in 17 matches. Buckingham stated that he's happy with the team's progress throughout the season and that everyone is focused on the next fixture against FC Goa.
"I'm very happy with the progress we've made from the first to the 17th match. Now the best thing that we can do is just make sure that we get ready for FC Goa. We just need to make sure that we continue to give performances that get results and we'll do that against FC Goa next week," Buckingham concluded.