Moving a notch higher after their record-breaking Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season, Mumbai City FC have gone and secured some top talents in the country. 

Touted as one of the most sought after transfers, the Islanders coup of Akash Mishra has been one of the biggest talking points in the summer transfer window.

Mishra, who deputises as a left-back, played a pivotal role under Manolo Marquez’s ISL title-winning Hyderabad FC. Having joined the club ahead of the 2020-21 season, he went from strength to strength and became one of the most important players in the team, racking up 68 appearances for the Yellow and Blacks.

“It’s been a week here but I feel like home already. I feel like I’ve been here since a very long time. I had no issues or any sort of problem settling in this club,” Mishra said in an interview with Mumbai City FC.

It’s no surprise to see the 21-year-old join the reigning ISL Shield winners, with Des Buckingham’s Mumbai City FC breaking and smashing records in all directions. The player spoke about the conversation he had with the head coach that led him to join the club.

“I had a call with him and that call played a very big role. When I spoke to coach Des, he explained to me the way of football he sees and the way wants to play. He explained to me the way he sees me in his plans and I think all those things really helped me and motivated me to join this club. I’m happy to have made this decision and I’m happy to be here at Mumbai City FC,” Mishra revealed.

Buckingham has managed to thrive in the Indian football scene and make a name for himself within no time. From his attractive brand of football to his scouting and backroom staff, the Englishman has been on the forefront of restructuring the club and improving it to even greater heights.

The left-back believes the club has a unique trait of identifying talent that have later gone on to represent the national team. The emergence of Lallianzuala Chhangte in the national team is a testament to Mishra’s belief.

“Not just me but every player has seen what Mumbai City FC have done, what Des has done in the past years. The way he works with young players, he’s been outstanding. We have seen many young players coming out of Mumbai City FC and becoming a star of Indian football. So, all those things when we see from outside really excite us to be here and come to train under him, learn from him, and to improve all those things,” he mentioned.

One of the brightest talents of his age (21), Mishra has also shown his prowess in the national team. His exploits in the 2022-23 season earned him the AIFF Men's Emerging Player of the Year. With his switch to Mumbai City FC, the left-back will have more responsibility on his shoulders as he will be playing in the AFC Champions League, Asia’s top-flight continental competition.

However, he is confident of being able to perform to his best at his new club and believes it is a mental challenge one needs to prepare for and overcome.

“I think it’s not about the age. Most of the time, one of the biggest problems that I faced and I feel some of the players faced is the mental challenge. We have to cope up with the pressure that comes at the top level,” he said. 

“Like we say, with success comes responsibility, so we take too much pressure on what the coach will think, what fans will think, and what others will think. We have to remove all those things from our mind, perform well, and give our best. Control things which only you can control,” he added.

With the addition of a 12th team in the ISL, the league is set to grow even more competitive. Mishra has set his sights on the title defence and the Champions League, with the aim of taking the team a level further this season.

“Title defence is important, so I would like to win the ISL Shield. We have seen Mumbai City FC do so well in the AFC Champions League so we want to continue doing that and improve as much as we can at Asia’s top level. We have to perform well there and test ourselves and do much better than last season,” he said.

In a concluding message, Mishra spoke about the passion of the Mumbai City FC faithful and requested their support for the upcoming season.    

“I’ve seen the crowd when I came for an away game at Mumbai and they are really loud and passionate about football. I just want them to come to the stadium and support us because we’ll give you a brand of football that you will enjoy and we’ll not disappoint you,” he signed off.

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