Big achievement to win against a tough opponent: Mumbai City FC’s Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham was pleased with his side's defensive performance after his side emerged victorious in a 1-0 win over ATK Mohun Bagan in Matchweek 15 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata, on Saturday.

Forward Lallianzuala Chhangte's first-half goal was the sole differentiator between the two sides as his goal helped the Islanders secure their ninth win on the trot.

The victory extends Mumbai City FC's lead at the top to four points, with 36 points from 14 games, while the loss leaves the home team in fourth place with 23 points in the Hero ISL standings.

The Islanders, who are already on top of the leaderboard for the most goals scored, have now come close in the defensive department as well. This win marked the side's sixth clean sheet this season, overtaking their opponents and are now second to Hyderabad FC - who have kept seven clean sheets. Buckingham applauded his side's defence that helped them keep the game in control in the second half. 

“In the first half we were very good and we could have scored four or five goals. We scored a very well taken goal in the first half and in the second half it was about managing the game. The pleasing thing was the defensive unit and how we shaped up off the ball which is going to be very important going into the last six games. To come here and go home with all three points against a big opponent like ATK Mohun Bagan, it is a very big achievement for everybody,” the head coach said in the official post-match press conference.

Lallianzuala Chhangte, who scored the match-winning goal, has been in scintillating form under the Englishman. The 25-year-old has played in all 14 matches for the Islanders and has 11 goal involvements this season comprising eight goals and three assists to his name. Buckingham was delighted with the turnaround made by the forward ever since he joined the club.

“He (Chhangte) is skillful, intelligent and sees the game well and all we have done is brought him up last January, it took him six months to adapt and again he has worked extremely well to understand the role, the relationships around the players he has around him. He is someone who has high standards with what he can do and it is great to see him perform and I am pleased that he is able to show it consistently,” said Buckingham.

It was a game where the backlines of both the teams were thoroughly tested. ATK Mohun Bagan's Vishal Kaith and Mumbai City FC's Phurba Lachenpa were dealt with several shots but only one of them managed to keep a shutout. Buckingham commented on his side's custodian as he kept yet another clean sheet. 

“Phurba Lachenpa is another player who has been very patient and when he has got the opportunity he has taken it. If he keeps performing the way he has been, we can be successful and I hope he continues to do that,” the head coach added.

With six more games to play, the 37-year-old warned his players of the upcoming games and wants them to be prepared to accomplish their set targets.

“We have got six more games and we are playing NorthEast United FC on Thursday, who got a new coach and we want to prepared as much as we can be because if we do not (prepare) as well as we want to then those six games are going to be very tricky in their own way. We want to do as much as we can before the game, and come game day, we want to perform in a way that the result falls our way,” he concluded.

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