Being part of Mumbai City FC under Lobera fills me with pride: Vignesh ahead of first-leg

Mumbai City FC play FC Goa in the first leg of Semi-final 1 of the 2020-21 Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) at the Fatorda Stadium on Friday, and young Islanders defender Vignesh Dakshinamurthy is all revved up to face the Gaurs. “We are very happy about reaching the semi-finals. We have already achieved our first target, which was winning the League Shield. I was with Mumbai City FC when we played FC Goa in the semi-finals two years back [2018-19 season]. We have done well throughout the season and I hope that we will do better in the semi-finals,” Vignesh told on the eve of the match.

“FC Goa are a very good team. They have a similar style of play like ours. It will be a great game for both teams. On the matchday, whoever gives more, the result will favour them,” he added.

The 22-year-old has had a good season with Mumbai City FC with impressive numbers to show for his efforts. In 19 matches so far, he has come up with 19 tackles, 17 clearances, 22 interceptions and 9 blocks besides having a passing accuracy of 68.84%. Not just that, he scored a goal against Hyderabad FC to lead his team to a 2-0 win earlier in the season. For a player who was an out-and-out midfielder not long ago, his numbers at the back are quite impressive.

“Before coming to Mumbai City FC, I was a left-wing midfielder. After coming to Mumbai City FC [in 2018], Jorge Costa [then head coach] wanted to play me as a left-back. So, I learnt about both positions so that I can play in midfield or left-back. This season, Sergio Lobera [Mumbai City FC head coach] has given me the role of left-back, so I am trying my best to do what he needs from me,” he said.

“I do not think there is much difference between playing as a midfielder or a left-back, because the flank will be the same. But as a left-back I have to focus more on defending. I have to change my mindset [attacking or defending] when playing in either of the two positions,” he added.

Talking about his experience of working with Lobera, Vignesh was effusive in praise of the Spanish head coach and thanked him for his contribution towards the betterment of his game. “I would rate this season as the best Hero ISL season that I have played because we got the first silverware for the club [League Winners Shield]. Being a part of this team fills me with pride. I would like to thank Sergio Lobera for believing in me. He believed that I can do the job on the pitch. I have learned many things under Sergio Lobera and I think I have improved a lot under him,” he said.

Vignesh also expressed his gratitude towards fellow Islanders defender Mandar Rao Dessai for playing an important role in his development. Talking about his influence, Vignesh said: “Mandar bhai has always been an inspiration to me, on and off the pitch because every time he sees me make a mistake on the field, he guides me. He has already played under Sergio Lobera [at FC Goa], so he knows what the coach needs. He comes and gives me points on the pitch. I think I have a great opportunity to compete for the national team left wingback position.”

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