Can’t be satisfied with one title, we want more: Mumbai City FC’s Des Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham has stated that the team needs to be more focused on themselves, while being aware of the dangers their first opponent of the Hero Indian Super League 2021-22, FC Goa, possess.

The Islanders will come up against the Gaurs at Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Fatorda on Monday. The two sides have faced each other 18 times, with Mumbai City FC winning five, losing seven and drawing six. Both teams have developed a bit of rivalry in the last couple of seasons due to their frequent meetings in the knockout stages, Mumbai signing players from Goa and also due to similar playing styles.

Mumbai City FC will kick off as the defending champions. And their opponent, who finished fourth last season, will aim to stop the Islanders from retaining the title.

Ahead of their exciting opening match against FC Goa, head coach Buckingham and captain Mourtada Fall addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the Mumbai City FC coach’s press conference.

Your first game is against FC Goa and Mumbai City FC’s last game of the previous season was against them. Have you watched that match? And how are you preparing for tomorrow?

Buckingham: Yeah, we've watched. We've watched a lot of footage not just of FC Goa but of course the league. We've probably got about 80% of the time we have spent focusing on us, and how we go about what we want to do, whilst also making sure that we are prepared as best as we can be for what we expect from Goa.

FC have retained their coach and a lot of their core players from the last season. They started the preseason quite early, and also won the Durand Cup. In contrast, you've been here for barely a month, do you think that puts you and the team on the backfoot for the game tomorrow?

Buckingham: I think we've done as much as we could have done in the time we've had. I think anywhere in the world, you'd like more time with players on and off the field. But, you know, we haven't had that. So what we've had to do is make very good use of the time we've had with this group. We've spent a lot of time on the field, but we spent more time off the field really working with this group of players.

The hardest time to motivate the players is when they are already champions. We’ve seen in the past that ISL team have struggled to retain the title. So how much focus are you putting in the mental aspect?

Buckingham: It’s a good question because we asked that question to the group. We can either look at that and be satisfied with winning one championship and one final or do we actually want to build upon that and try and continue what we have done in Indian football. We look across the league and there are other clubs that have won more than we have and more times than we have so that becomes our focus. We still need to play and try and win games but if we want to build a dynasty, we also need to reach the standards of the other clubs in the past seven years.

The first two games of the season have been high scoring. What do you make of those games?

Buckingham: I think it's just teams being probably a bit more comfortable in themselves and wanting to go out and try and express their own playing styles and wanting to win games. And that has certainly kept me very excited and interested in those two games.

Here are the excerpts from Fall’s press conference:

How has your bonding been with Indian center-backs in the pre-season and how do you expect them to perform?

Fall: I think we have talented Indian players. We worked together in pre-season and friendly games. I think we have Indian players who can play with me easily. They have good character.

What’s your impression of the new coach so far?

Fall: The coach has brought in new ideas. But it’s almost the same style. We don’t feel a big change in the team. We feel motivated under the coach.

Recently a rivalry has developed between FC Goa and Mumbai City FC. So how do you take this match on a personal note and what do you feel will be the results?

Fall: It is an important game like every game. We need to start the season well. We take every team seriously. We need to prepare ourselves and have the same mentality for every game.

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