Hero ISL 2022-23, Mumbai City FC preview: After a strong transfer window, Des Buckingham's Islanders are gunning for glory

Image Courtesy: Mumbai City FC

Mumbai City FC’s title defence didn’t go as per plan as they failed to reach the semi-finals in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season, finishing in the fifth position with 31 points.

The Islanders head coach Des Buckingham who joined very close to the start of the season couldn’t couldn’t quite get the team play football in his style. But come Hero ISL 2022-23 season, Buckingham slowly moulded the squad as per his liking by bringing in reinforcements in the foreign department while keeping the core of his squad last season intact.

The Islanders impressed in the AFC Champions League campaign picking up two wins and finishing in the second position in the group which was the best performance by an Indian club side in the competition.

Mumbai City FC also reached the Durand Cup final where they narrowly lost to Bengaluru FC.

The Mumbai club have witnessed plenty of ups and downs in their Hero ISL history, reaching the knockout stages thrice and winning the title once.

Season

Position

2014

7th

2015

6th

2016

1st (Semi-finalists)

2017-18

7th

2018-19

3rd (Semi-finalists)

2019-20

5th

2020-21

1st (Hero ISL League Winners and Hero ISL Champions)

2021-22

5th

Team Composition and Transfer Dealings

Buckingham arguably made one of the most shrewd signings of the season after roping in Greg Stewart - who won the Hero of the League award last season - who will take the centre stage when it comes to scoring and creating goals.

The Islanders have also strenghtened their foreign contingent with four new signings in Rostyn Griffiths, Alberto Noguera, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, and Greg Stewart while Mourtada Fall and Ahmed Jahouh remain an integral part of the team.

The presence of Alberto Noguera alongside Indian players like Apuia, Vinit Rai, and Rowllin Borges will definitely see an improvement in their creativity upfront with Noguera being of paramount significance in the centre of the park.

Overall, Mumbai City FC look like a side ready to rumble, having several experienced players in Buckingham’s desired positions.

Transfers

INs: Greg Stewart, Rostyn Griffiths, Alberto Noguera, Jorge Pereyra Diaz, Bhaskar Roy, Gursimrat Singh Gill, Sanjeev Stalin,

OUTs: Diego Mauricio, Mohamad Rakip, Vikram Lakhbir Singh, Naorem Tondonba Singh, Huidrom Naocha Singh, Bradden Inman, Igor Angulo, Cassio Gabriel, Pranjal Bhumij, Valpuia, Chanso Horam

To see the full squad of Mumbai City FC, click here 

Expert’s Take

Erik Paartalu on Buckingham’s new team:

Their squad is not good. It's crazy good! When Des Buckingham took over last season they had lost quite a few big players from the season before they did the double. They were very up and down last year but Des managed to steer the ship impeccably in the AFC Champions League which was a big confidence boost for everyone involved.

The arrival of Greg Stewart (the best player in the league last season) is already looking like a great move after he warmed up in the Durand Cup winning the Golden ball and looking untouchable as usual. It was an area they really lacked last year. Someone to be creative and to link the midfield to the strikers. Greg, well and truly, brings that to the table.

They have only brought in one player that is not familiar with the league and that is Rostyn Griffiths. A player who was with Melbourne City (another City group club) but he has worked with Buckingham before at Melbourne City when he was the assistant coach there.

As we have seen in the league, the teams with players, both domestic and foreign with Hero ISL experience tend to be up the right end of the table, there have been some great bits of business done by the club in the off-season.

Erik Paartalu’s take on the transfer business done by Mumbai City FC:

They have looked to really strengthen that middle spine with the arrivals of Greg Stewart, Alberto Noguera, and Jorge Pereyra Diaz along with Rostyn Griffiths who can play as a defensive midfielder or central defender. They will have an almost new player in Rowllin Borges who missed the whole of last season due to injury but it remains to be seen if he can break in between the Ahmed Jahouh and Apuia central midfield partnership.

Mumbai City FC have gone in house and inside the league to bring across, in my opinion, the most gifted player in the league in Noguera. The way he can slide a pass through disguised into the final third is something not seen in this league before, and Mumbai City FC fans will be hoping a player like Diaz can be on the end of those.

Diaz comes across from Kerala Blasters FC after a terrific season. He is an out and out scrapper and poacher and will push teams for the entire 90 minutes. He makes intelligent runs in behind and always follows in on the goalkeeper. A player like him is like having an extra player on the pitch.

So for Mumbai, there hasn't been a lot of movement in terms of their ‘ city group scouting network it would seem. But what they have done is be very intelligent in getting players either familiar with the league or with the coach.

Erik Paartalu on players to watch out for MCFC:

Lallianzuala Chhangte: He moved across to Mumbai late last year and never really got up to speed. His move across was one that he needed to make as he certainly is a top quality individual and fits this Mumbai City FC team so well. He has gone and bagged himself the Golden Boot in the Durand Cup and looks as fit as ever. This season will be the best of his career so far to date. I am really excited to see what he can conjure up week in, week out for this team.

Greg Stewart: You have to mention. He was the best player last season and is a joy to watch. He will be surrounded by better ball players this season and in a system that is more possession-based, so I am really intrigued to see if that is a hindrance or a benefit to his game. He came to life at Jamshedpur because the ball was away from him for long periods then all of a sudden he would pick up a loose ball and create his magic with time and space on his side. In this Mumbai City FC side you have so many players that like to take the ball, will Greg be able to be found with space and time?

Fixtures

Mumbai City FC open their Hero ISL 2022-23 campaign in an away game against Hyderabad FC and face Odisha FC, Jamshedpur FC, and Kerala Blasters FC in their remaining fixtures of October.

For full fixtures of Mumbai City FC, click here

Erik Paartalu’s verdict on Mumbai City FC:

Mumbai City FC, with the squad they have, needs to win a trophy this season. They’ve gone away and had a nice pre-season in Dubai and had a good spell in the Durand Cup, finishing runners-up. Their preparation couldn’t have been better. You know with the players they have they are going to score goals but can they stop them going in at the other end?

Phurba Lachenpa and Mohamad Nawaz will be battling it out for the number 1 jersey, but I’m sure Buckingham will be hoping one of them cements that place in between the sticks and gives the confidence to those in front of him. That solidity will win a championship, not just win most of their games.

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