Mumbai City FC will get their season underway in with a Group B encounter in the Durand Cup 2022 as they take on Indian Navy FC at the Salt Lake stadium on Thursday.

The Islanders have made some notable additions in the summer signing last year’s Hero of the League Greg Stewart, Alberto Noguera, Jorge Pereyra Diaz and Rostyn Griffiths.

Des Buckingham who had a difficult first season in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) last season as he couldn’t steer the club into the semi-finals rallied his troops in the AFC Champions League as Mumbai City FC became the first Indian team to win a match in Asia’s premier club competition.

Having got his team in his own mould, Buckingham’s Mumbai City FC will be expected to deliver big on the pitch starting with the Durand Cup, a tournament the English head coach is refusing to take lightly.

“For us as a club, we want to continue from where we left off in the ACL last season. It’s very much important to maintain the same intent going forward. For me, it’s important to continue being successful on the pitch,” he said during a press conference ahead of the Durand Cup.

“I don’t want to disrespect the tournament by playing it as a preparatory tournament because it’s the oldest tournament in Asia. So, we just have to focus on our first game,” he added.

Buckingham feels confident with his new-look team which has not just been strengthened by the right number of signings but also by retentions from last year.

“I’m very happy with the squad that we have. We have made only six changes to our squad from the ACL. We have managed to retain a big part of our squad and I’m very happy with the players,” he said.

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Indian Navy FC which has for a long period of time plied their trade in the Mumbai Football League’s Elite division are thus not unfamiliar opponents for Mumbai City FC. The Indian Navy side over the years have been known for their elite fitness levels and will thus be a perfect test for Mumbai City FC who are playing the first match of this longer Indian football calendar.

Buckingham though feels his team are ready to hit the ground running after a good preparatory camp in the UAE.

“We had a really good three-week pre-season camp in Dubai before we came to Kolkata. It was a good opportunity for all of us to prepare and I think we have got ourselves in the best position possible. We played a few games in Dubai which gave the players time to settle in,” he said.

Mumbai City FC’s match against Indian Navy FC is scheduled at 3 PM IST on Thursday and will be shown live on Sports18, Sports18 HD and will be streamed live on Voot Select and Jio TV.