Bipin and Chhangte: The deadly duo lighting up the flanks at Mumbai City FC
At the heart of the Islanders' dominance has been the camaraderie between wingers Lallianzuala Chhangte and Bipin Singh. They have collectively been involved in 22 of Mumbai City FC's 47 goals this season.
On Saturday, Mumbai City FC will take on FC Goa in a game that will have a huge bearing on their tussle for the ISL League Winners Shield. Mumbai City FC are unbeaten so far, and if they manage to stretch that streak to 17 games, they will make a massive stride in securing the Shield.
At the heart of this dominance for the Islanders has been the camaraderie between wingers Lallianzuala Chhangte and Bipin Singh. They have collectively been involved in 22 of Mumbai City FC's 47 goals this season. Chhangte has notched up 9 goals and 5 assists in 16 games and said that having a player like Bipin on the other wing has played a big role.
"It makes the work so much easier, having a player like Bipin bhai, who can run as fast as me," said Chhangte. "And, of course, even the foreign players - they are very very helpful on and off the pitch. When I see them run, especially players who are older than me, running and chasing the ball, it gives me extra motivation to help them out."
This season, both Chhangte and Bipin have carved defences open with their speed, dribbling, and the ability to link up with each other. It is not unusual to see Mumbai's attacks begin with a run behind defenders by Chhangte or a lung-busting run by Bipin on the flanks. Bipin says that he and Chhangte are close on and off the field, and their admiration for each other comes through when they speak.
"I've been looking at Bipin for the last two years. One thing I like about him is that he can use both feet. But I don't know if his left foot is better than mine!" Chhangte jested. "He never hesitates to dribble and always gets past if he has a chance to cross. Sometimes he's very unpredictable which is something I need to learn from him as well. I enjoy playing with him."
Bipin's rating of Chhangte is captured in just one sentence - "You've seen it on the pitch - his dribbling and shooting. My brother has it all."
While Bipin and Chhangte have been vital for Mumbai City FCs success, Bipin was quick to point out that the team's success has come from buying into head coach Des Buckingham's vision, and becoming familiar with it over two seasons.
"Last season, it took us some time to understand his game plans. We tried, of course, but this time it was more comfortable, we all understood what needed to be done. The ones who play regularly are performing and those who are on the bench have also raised their games and come in at the same level," he said.