Finishing second in the AFC Champions League group is a huge achievement: Mumbai City FC’s Des Buckingham

Mumbai City head coach Des Buckingham was pleased with his team’s overall performance as they ended their AFC Champions League 2022 campaign on a winning note by defeating Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 1-0 in Group B at the King Fahd International Stadium in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

A first-half strike from Diego Mauricio secured Mumbai City the three points and ended Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya’s hopes of advancing to the Round of 16.

Match Report: Mumbai City FC end historic campaign with a win over Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya

On the other hand, the  Islanders end their campaign on a high as they became the most successful Indian club in the competition after accomplishing two wins in their first season that took their tally to seven points, four more than FC Goa who were the first-ever Indian team to compete in the AFC Champions League group stages.

Following the game, the Islanders head coach addressed the media during the official post-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:

What does this win mean to Mumbai City FC?

It was a very challenging game. And we knew it would be because they're a wonderful team. It was the first time we played them to play six games in nineteen days, but to come away with a win and to the show the way that the players have played in the last six games, not just tonight, to come away from the Champions League, picking up seven points, scoring more goals than we ever have done. And to finish second in the group is a huge achievement, both for this football club and for football in India.

We have seen that you played with different strategies in all the games. What were your instructions to the players?

I must thank the club and our CEO for allowing us to go to Abu Dhabi at the end of the season. We spent two and a half weeks in an account there to prepare ourselves as well as we could do for this tournament. That can give us a lot of opportunities to work on a few things that we just simply didn't get a chance to do in the Hero Indian Super League.

And the players, we've shown throughout the first four games, in particular, how good the players can be with the ball, and how brave and good technically they can be against some wonderful opposition. And tonight, we've also shown that more so from a defensive point of view, how strong we can be if we stay connected and stay together.

And then the strategy was to hit them on the break, and especially in the space that they leave what we thought they were left between, you know, they connect both fullbacks and there was a lot of space that we felt we could exploit down the sides and very pleased with the outcome very pleased with how the players stuck to the game plan. Very pleased with the overall outcome of this tournament.

What are the takeaways for you from this tournament?

There was a big change of personnel, both player-wise and staff-wise from our team last year that qualified for this event. We lost a lot of experienced and senior players to the group. And I think the team has taken to the field tonight it’s a very young side.

We want to really develop these young players and take them forward. But we also need to be smart that how we do that because we have some wonderful experienced players at the club. They really helped nurture these young players and allow them to perform and do what they do on the field.

So it does set us up very well for going into next season. We’re already making plans for what next season starts to look like for us. And a lot of these players will play a major part in that now because we've spent the last eight months together literally 24 hours a day in a bio bubble, which has really helped us come together. And we've seen the results of that tonight. So I'm really looking forward to getting back on the grass in a couple of months' time with this group of players to continue the good work.

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