Mumbai City FC to pick up ISL League Winners Shield at home as they host East Bengal FC
Mumbai City FC will play their last Hero Indian Super League (ISL) game of the league stage at home against East Bengal FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday. The Islanders will be presented with the Hero ISL 2022-23 League Winners Shield after the game - the second in their history - in front of their supporters. The team broke plenty of records this season before sealing first place with a win against FC Goa two weeks ago. Following the end of their league campaign, they will return to the venue to feature for the first leg of the semi-finals 14 days later.
Aiming for an unbeaten finish to the league stage, Mumbai City FC were handed their first loss in their last game in Bengaluru on Wednesday. The Islanders were two goals down till the 77th minute when Mourtada Fall pulled one back. However, the Blues held on to the slender lead and eventually handed Mumbai City FC their first defeat of the season.
The league leaders had to make an eleventh-hour change in the last game after Greg Stewart rolled his ankle during warm-ups. That saw him head straight into the stands as Alberto Noguera replaced him. Stewart has had ongoing injury concerns that could mean he is rested for this fixture, with a chance for the league leaders to test their bench ahead of the playoffs.
“I am really looking forward to this game. It is an opportunity for us to try and finish the season strong. We will have a look back at the last ten months to see what we as a club have achieved,” said head coach Des Buckingham. “The way we have performed, won the title, it is a wonderful achievement for everyone. But now we look forward to the game against East Bengal and then we will start preparing for a tough playoff semifinal,” he added.
East Bengal FC are not in the playoff race but will try to hold onto ninth place, a spot that is also in the crosshairs of Jamshedpur FC, who are three points behind the Torch Bearers. Last weekend, after picking up points in two back-to-back games for the first time this season, East Bengal FC went down against Chennaiyin FC.
The Torchbearers have scored four goals in their last three Hero ISL games but fired a blank in the last game. Cleiton Silva is the league’s leading goalscorer so far, having netting 12 goals in 18 games. The Brazilian, with his new strike partner Jake Jervis, will have to be at the top of his game to score what will be East Bengal FC’s first ever Hero ISL goal against Mumbai City FC.
“They won the league a week ago and I am pretty sure that they did not want to lose against Bengaluru FC. I expect them to play hard and be professional, which is a trademark of the team and their coach,” said Constantine. “I expect a very difficult game because they will need a good result to remain sharp for the playoff semi-final,” he added.
The two sides have met five times in the Hero ISL. Mumbai City FC have won on four occasions and one match has ended in a draw.