Durand Cup 2022: Mumbai City FC gear up for Mohammedan SC challenge in first semi-final

The Des Buckingham-coached Hero Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City FC gear up for the challenge of local favourites Mohammedan SC in the first semi-final of the Durand Cup at Kolkata’s Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Wednesday.

On paper, the Islanders might be having the slight edge going into the big game on Wednesday, given the sheer menacing nature of their attacking game and the quality and experience of the overall squad. But if the Islanders have scored 18 times in the tournament so far, the highest among all 20 teams, the Black & White brigade have been no slouch having scored a dozen times themselves. They have looked very well organised and settled under Russian coach Andrey Chernyshov, letting in just two in their campaign to the Islanders 10.

Mohammedan also gave fellow semi-finalists Bengaluru FC a run for their money in a 1-1 draw and have played a pleasing brand of football.

Greg Stewart and Lallianzuala Chhangte have been the leading lights of the MCFC campaign scoring 13 times between them with the latter currently being the tournament's highest scorer with seven goals to his name. With the addition of experienced Senegalese defender Mourtada Fall and ace distributor Rowlin Borges, the Islanders now also look even more balanced and potent.

Head coach Des Buckingham was a picture of calm and confidence in the pre-match press conference on Tuesday when he said, “We will try to win within 90 minutes.”

He was however respectful of his opponents adding, “Mohammedan are a good side. Look at the way they are playing. They will be playing on their home ground. I respect all the players of Mohammedan. Joseph is a good player, even Dauda. The way both the teams play I hope it's going to be an interesting game. Looking forward to the semi-final.”

Buckingham was referring to Mohammedan’s own recent lethal addition to the side, Nigerian striker Abiola Dauda, who struck twice in his debut for the Black & Whites, in the quarter-finals against the Kerala Blasters. With the newfound assist powers of Trinidadian Marcus Joseph, the Mumbai defence will have to be wary of their opponent’s threat.

Coach Chernyshov was also aware of the enormity of the task at hand. He said at the pre-match press conference, “Mumbai is a strong team. But we have prepared ourselves. If we can play in our own style and play good football then we can get good results. Tomorrow we are expecting a really difficult game. This is one step from the final, so an important game. Both teams have played nicely so they will want to win. Wednesday's match will be good for the supporters because they are going to witness a very good match.”

Mumbai City FC who have been in fine form since the AFC Champions League campaign will probably head into the match as favourites given the quality in their ranks but they will be wary of the fact that Mohammedan SC have the ability to surprise teams, especially on their own patch.

The chance of winning their first-ever cup competition will be a huge motivating factor for Buckingham’s team as they aim to secure their spot in Sunday’s final.

Telecast and Streaming information

Live Telecast: Sports18 1 SD & HD, and Sports18 Khel

Live Stream: Voot Select

Kick-off time: 6 PM IST

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