Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham asserted his players need to continue the way they want to play regardless of the threat posed by Odisha FC, who they face next in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Kalinga Stadium, in Bhubaneshwar, on Monday.

Second-placed Mumbai City FC are eight points ahead of Odisha FC, who are placed sixth in the Hero ISL standings. The Kalinga Warriors have suffered six defeats at home, but are yet to lose at the Kalinga Stadium, where they will be looking to extend their unbeaten run against the Islanders.

The midfielders have been crucial to the success of their respective teams and in terms of the way they play. Buckingham said that Odisha FC’s style of play was similar to the one his team has, but maintained that the game would be decided across the pitch and not just the midfield.

“They have got a good team and the way Josep (Gombau) sets them up, they want to play a certain way and it is similar to ours. I don’t think it’s one area where the game is going to be won, it’s across the field. They have some good attackers and it’s about making sure our defence is ready for that, but also to be able to play the way we want,” Buckingham said at the pre-match press conference.

The Kalinga Stadium has turned out to be a fortress for Odisha FC, who are unbeaten in five games at home. Gombau’s side have won four of their five games and Mumbai City FC will surely have their task cut out. However, Buckingham asserted that his approach won’t change regardless of the opposition.

“In terms of how we want this club to play, it’s to go and attack and play the football that we play. Whether it’s playing Air Force Club in the AFC Champions League or playing Odisha FC away, we know the challenges we have, but our approach doesn’t change. We will go on and play our football to the best of our abilities. Then, if we need to manage situations in the game, whether it’s to secure a result or put ourselves in a strong position like making changes to impact the game or more reinforcements to secure the game, that’s what we have the ability to do this year as well. My approach will never change - it’s to attack and to play a good brand of football,” he explained.

11 different players have found the back of the net for Mumbai City FC, and Buckingham asserted the contribution of his attack and midfield in scoring goals is going to be crucial as the season progresses.

“Teams will approach and try to stop our midfield in different ways, but the pleasing thing is that we have different ways to come out of that and play. And in the end, it’s the box where the game is decided. What’s pleasing is the combination of our front five(-six) players with (Jorge) Diaz, Bipin (Singh), (Lallianzuala) Chhangte, Apuia..who is now scoring goals and Vinit scored the other week, Greg (Stewart) and Alberto (Noguera). So the contribution of our front five and the threat of those, is going to be so important to make sure we keep up those threats and finish off those moves,” Buckingham said.

Mumbai City FC are the only side yet to be beaten this season, winning eight of their 11 games so far. While it remains to be seen if MCFC go the entire season unbeaten, Buckingham was delighted with his team’s performances.

“Motivation wise, I don’t have to do too much. It’s a very humble and good group of players. That’s not what we want to do week in and week out. And that’s as far forward as we look. We spoke about starting the season well and putting ourselves in a strong position. I’m very happy with the performances till today, with the 11 games. Not just the performances, but also the results that have come as part of that. It’s important as we tip over to the other side of the season that we make sure we continue to try and get better game by game,” he said.