It’s a huge result, not just for us, but also for Indian football: Mumbai City FC’s Des Buckingham
Buckingham along with goalscorer and defender Rahul Bheke attended the media after the game.
Mumbai City FC scripted history with their 2-1 win over Iraqi club Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, becoming the first ever Indian club to win a AFC Champions League match. The Islanders trailed by a 59th minute goal from Hammadi Ahmed, but a spot-kick goal from Diego Mauricio in the 70th minute and a Rahul Bheke header in the 75th minute turned the tide in their favour, earning crucial three points in the competition.
Head coach Des Buckingham was delighted with his team’s performance and lauded the efforts of his players as they completed the set target of becoming the first Indian club to win a game in the competition.
The Islanders' head coach attended the media after the game.
Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:
Congratulations on winning the first AFC Champions League match of Mumbai City FC. What are your thoughts about this match?
Buckingham: It’s a huge result, not just for our club Mumbai, but also for the nation and Indian football. We’re the first team to come into the AFC Champions League and pick up the three points, it’s something that we as a group have been trying to achieve since long and now, we’ve got that in this game. It’s important now that we focus, with four games to go and we’ll see what we can do in these four games.
You changed up the foreigner quota in the formation a little bit in this game. How well did the team adapt to that change and how prepared were you on what Air Force Club would bring?
Buckingham: Air Force Club have been a great team, they have been consistently performing in this competition for four or five seasons. We got back and watched the way they’ve changed, adapted, and grown consistently to this level, it’s amazing. We’ve got a capable squad and from the last game, we wanted to build on it, we lacked that edge on the field, and bringing Diego [Mauricio] this season, he’ll certainly give us that, and then the change at the centre-back. Whoever we bring in, whoever we start, or whoever we’ve brought on tonight, they’ve done so well and I’m immensely proud.
What were the instructions to the team after going 1-0 down, how did you manage between attack and defence, being a goal down?
Buckingham: We believe in what we do, we had a set target when we got here, and we achieved that target. It’s now refocusing and readjusting, but the message I had for the team at half-time and throughout the game was to continue to win, what we’ve set out to do, if we do that, it’ll certainly put us in a better position for the games to come.
That feeling of getting the first win is incredible. How are the emotions in the dressing room right now?
Buckingham: We know coming into this tournament how tough it was going to be, the league we come from is only eight seasons old. So, this is the second time a club from India has come into this intercontinental competition, and we compete against very well resourced and experienced teams, in terms of the experience the players have and the experience of playing successfully at this level for a long period of time.
So, the emotions, both in the staff group and the players group is one of the club’s progresses, firstly to represent our club Mumbai City FC and secondly, to represent Indian football, and we created history by becoming the first Indian club to win an AFC Champions League game. I was really pleased with, obviously, how we won the game. We played a good game of football and the fact that it was deserved, so we’re proud of what we’ve done for the club, the country, and ourselves.