Mumbai City FC head coach Petr Kratky revealed his team won’t change their approach when they go up against NorthEast United FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena on Tuesday.

Having already secured a spot in the playoffs this season, Mumbai City FC find themselves on par with table-toppers Mohun Bagan Super Giant in terms of points, albeit having played an additional game. The Islanders will be determined to reach the summit of the table by securing a victory against NorthEast United FC.

Despite their qualification, Mumbai City FC will be anticipating a formidable challenge from NorthEast United FC, who are actively vying for a playoff position. Juan Pedro Benali's side currently occupy the ninth position in the standings with 20 points from 18 games. A successful outing against Mumbai City FC could propel them to the sixth position, displacing Jamshedpur FC and reigniting their playoff aspirations.

Kratky expressed caution about their upcoming opponents but stressed that Mumbai City FC's primary focus would be on sticking to their own playing philosophy.

"NorthEast United FC is a quality team. They will push for the top six. So if they win, they can basically jump into the top six. We know about their ability, their players (but) our approach still doesn't change. We have to be aware, as we always do. We prepare the players the best we can against what they will face. But for our way, we will try to do the best what we can (in) the way we want to play," he said in the pre-match press conference.

Kratky has enjoyed a seamless tenure as the head coach of Mumbai City FC since taking the reins in December. Over the course of 12 league games under Kratky's guidance, the team has encountered only two defeats, securing victories in five matches and settling for draws in an equal number.

Highlighting the positives from his time with the squad so far, Kratky stated: “They (players) want to play football (our way). They are a hardworking group and they want to achieve (something). My role is just to guide them. I'm happy with the whole squad (and) the basics, the fundamentals that were set up before I came. We just try to keep going with intensity, with a good, positive and correct mindset. Game by game, they’re doing it and I'm very happy for them and for us as a club as well. I'm very positive. As I said (before), this group is special.  They have a lot of quality, but we have to keep working the right way until the end.”

Kratky disclosed that striker Jorge Diaz is fit again and actively participating in training sessions with the team. However, the decision regarding his inclusion in the matchday squad will be contingent on his fitness levels. 

Kratky wants me to enjoy my football: Chhangte

Mumbai City FC forward Lallianzuala Chhangte accompanied Kratky in the pre-match press conference. Chhangte, the leading Indian goal-scorer from the previous season, has notably contributed four goals and four assists in 18 league games this season. Of particular note, two of his four goals were secured in the last two games, signaling a gradual return to form.

During the press conference, Chhangte shared insights into his personal goals and development.

“For me, it’s all about being the best version of myself every single day. That is what Ii'm trying to do. Not just in a football match, but every single day. So that’s my mentality and since coach Petr came in, he encouraged me. I had a chat with him. He just wants me to enjoy my football and do what I have been doing for the club and be myself. Believe in my team and myself and that helps me a lot,” he said in the pre-match press conference.

Chhangte is set to face his former team on Tuesday, having previously represented the Highlanders during the 2016 season. The Mizoram-born winger emphasised that, to secure three points against his former team, Mumbai City FC must exhibit effectiveness at both ends of the pitch.

“They have the ability to play in the top six. They will try to do everything to make us suffer tomorrow (on Tuesday) as well. We know this and we are well aware of this,” he expressed.

“For us, it’s about being compact at the back and as an attacker, we should be more sharper compared to the last few matches that we played,” he added.