Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham believes that his players are now showing a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities on the pitch as they hunt for their fourth consecutive win to continue their eight-game unbeaten streak when they face FC Goa at the Mumbai Football Arena in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL).

The Englishman heaped praise on Carlos Pena and added that FC Goa has a similar possession-based style of play. The fixture in recent times has proven to be a tough one for FC Goa as they haven't managed to beat the Islanders in their last six meetings, failing to score in the last three. 

Buckingham was accompanied by midfielder, Vinit Rai, in the press conference hwre he spoke about the team’s mentality, the contribution and learning experience it’s been for the young players in the squad, and showed gratitude towards the amazing atmosphere that’s created in the home matches.

Here are the excerpts from Buckingham’s conference:

Are we expecting a high-scoring game on Thursday?

Buckingham: I’ll be happy with the scoreline as long as we continue playing the way that we have in the first eight games, whereas every game we prepare to go out and try and win the game, but we know we're up against a very tough and good Goa side who will come and be trying to do the same to us. But as long as we keep trying to do what we've been doing in the last eight games, and we continue trying to get better, it'll be the thing that I'll look forward to on Thursday.

Any particular team that you want to name who can provide the tough challenge?

Buckingham: Any team can, that's I think this has been season number nine of the Hero ISL. I think every season we've seen every team in the league gets stronger and better. And I think when you look across the league already with the results across all of the games, there have been results that maybe you didn't think could or would happen, but they have. We've certainly seen it at the World Cup but I think in this league, anyone can be anybody. so we need to make sure again, whether it's FC Goa or NorthEast United FC last week, that we paid the respect it deserves and we'll do everything we can and we have done to make sure we’re prepared for the game.

Jorge Diaz, Bipin Singh, Lallianzuala Chhangte, and Greg (Stewart) is there something special you’ve been working on those four that helps them create that bond between them?

Buckingham: I think it's more just the way that we've had time with the players, I mean even Vinit (Rai), we managed to get scoring goals now, which is a rarity (laughs). I got Apuia (Lalengmawia Ralte) and Vinit also contributing from those midfield roles. So it's been a time that we've been able to spend looking at how we want to play and I think the players are now just showing a clear understanding of what their roles are and doing them at different times. and I think when they do that, consistently through the game, it becomes very difficult to stop one of the three or four when the movements are right.

Mumbai is really close to Goa and Goa is really close to Mumbai, so do you think it’s a Derby match for you?

Buckingham: I keep getting told, much more so because of the distance. But again, I've only been this my second season here. And of course the last year we've been in a bubble. So I think that the fans in terms of creating those derbies and that rivalry if you want, for me, isn't quite there and it certainly doesn't affect the way that I go about what I do or the way the team has gone about what we do this week in preparation for this game. But if the fans see it that way and want to rekindle that over the seasons it's another game we're looking forward to. At home! In front of our crowd. The last three or four games to keep speaking about how special the environment we have at our home ground, you know, it's not the biggest, but when it's full and the atmosphere that's created in the closeness of the pitch, it still certainly spills onto the field for the players and stuff.

Last game you conceded a goal against NorthEast United FC. How did you take it up to Mehtab(Singh)?

Buckingham: We know we're going to concede goals that's football. We've got a way that we want to play. We've got young players with the young players, sometimes they will make mistakes, and the senior guys, but unfortunately in the last game that that mistake resulted in a goal but the pleasing thing was the reaction to that. We keep talking about having a way to play, Mehtab never shied away from getting back onto the ball straight afterward and that's so important. You know, it's the environment we tried to create where we want young players, we want young Indian players and for them to develop, they need to learn and that's part of his learning process. And he's been very well supported not just by the staff and by the club, but by his teammates and the pleasing thing was his reaction was to continue getting on the ball.

He didn't fade, he didn't hide and that's the really pleasing thing when I watch back to the games, and it's the same for all our young players and even the senior guys when they come on. We know the way we want to play can be expensive. And we know we put the ball at risk at times. But we've seen the benefit of that and how we've played in scoring 23 goals in 8 games it's just part of a learning process, especially for the young guys.

You’ll be going up against another young coach, Carlos Pena. How do you view him as your counterpart?

Buckingham: It’s his first season in coaching but I say that with respect because he's got a deep history with FC Goa. FC Goa has a sort of DNA about how they play football possession-based team very similar to us in terms of how they want to attack and that's embedded within him with his time firstly playing and now coaching the sides, so you've certainly seen that continuation so far this season.

There's a lot of respect there not just for Carlos but for all of the coaches in the league. Everyone's trying to do the same thing but it's a game where whether it's Carlos or next week will be Stephen Constantine and then afterward, Thomas (Brdaric) again but now what I'm looking forward to and I look forward to seeing Carlos again on Thursday.

Can you name a specific player from FC Goa, who can be a real threat in the next game?

Buckingham: They have several, I won't give you one name. I can give you several, Edu (Bedia) who I don't think was fit enough to start the last game but come on in,  we've seen the impact he has. They’ve got Vazquez (Alvaro), we saw what he could do last year and have already seen what you can do this year and then it's surrounded and they build that team around similar to us. They've retained a large core of that group similar to what we have. So it's very similar, a lot of similarities. So not so much one player, but the consistency of the team. Their knowledge of how they want to play and the understanding and that DNA of the coach coming back into re-embed that and if we focus too much on one player, which is not something we ever do, They can hurt you in other areas. So we'll set ourselves up first to make sure we can try to do what we want to whilst also again paying respect and being aware of the dangers that not just one player poses but a positive group and making sure we're as prepared as we can.

Here are the excerpts from Rai’s press conference:

How incredible was the feeling of getting your first start of the season in the last game and actually getting your goal?

Rai: I mean, first of all, I want to thank Coach for giving me an opportunity to start. And that was my second start, by the way, but it's okay. for me as long as the team is winning, I'm happy because, like, most important thing is to get the three points from every game and whether I start or not. it's the coach’s decision and all the staff will decide. So for me, it's my job whenever I get the opportunity to step on the pitch, so I'll always try to give my best so that I can help my team to get the result from every match.

Vinit this is your first full season with Mumbai City FC, last year you were only there for the second half of the season. What has been the learning experience from last year to this year?

Rai: I mean, the learning experience is massive. The way I arrived in Mumbai, The way I'm actually feeling right now, in terms of my game and in every training and my mindset, you know, everything has changed a lot and for that, I have to thank the Head Coach, our assistant coach Mia and coach Toni and all coaching staff, because they helped me every time to grow as a player, by showing me some individual clips and all, What I can do better and why I'm doing good And it really helps a lot for as a player to improve the game and I think this one is the huge difference from last year to now.