Mumbai City FC head coach Petr Kratky commended his defensive unit’s performance as his side saw off FC Goa in the second leg of the semi-final 2 of the Indian Super League at the Mumbai Football Arena in Mumbai on Monday.

With a 2-0 win over the Gaurs, Kratky's men have secured their spot in the finals, where they will face Mohun Bagan SG for the title. This marks Mumbai City FC's second appearance in the finals, making them the seventh team to do so in league history.

The game started evenly, with both teams struggling to create clear chances in the first half. Despite having less possession, Mumbai City FC gradually gained control as the match went into the second half.

For the hosts, Jorge Pereyra Diaz broke the deadlock in the 69th minute from a Lallianzuala Chhangte corner. In the 83rd minute, Kratky’s men doubled their lead with Chhangte’s sublime finish from Vikram Partap Singh’s quick forward pass.

Throughout the season, Mumbai City FC looked lethal on the counterattack and scored numerous goals from their speedy offensive moves. However, Kratky believed that utilizing their chances from counterattacks was just one part of their different match tactics. 

“We don’t play for counterattacks; it just came with the context of the game. In the first 30 minutes, we were losing lots of balls, which we (usually) win. We wanted to keep the ball in our control; we wanted to control the game,” Kratky said in the post-match press conference.

The Czech-Australian head coach showered praise on the Gaurs, crediting them for disrupting their game plan in the opening quarter.

“But credit goes to FC Goa, who didn’t let us (do that). That’s why we went a little bit deeper. But the boys pushed, absorbed the pressure, and slowly we got back in the game and tried to get a little bit (more) control, (which is why) it was a better second half,” he stated.

FC Goa only managed to register one shot on target against Mumbai City FC. Rahul Bheke spearheaded Kratky’s defensive line, effectively thwarting the Gaurs’ offensive movements and demonstrating their resilience and persistence on several occasions.

The home side managed to keep a clean sheet on the night, a significant accomplishment considering the Gaurs' necessity to win the game.

“I think it’s a credit to FC Goa that they came here to fight for scoring and winning the game. but credit to us, because we’re strong, we absorbed the pressure, our defence was very good, and everyone defended. So it was really good,” he further added.

Kratky acknowledged the pressure that Manolo Marquez’s team posed during the opening half an hour but commended his players’ overall performance, who stood on their feet throughout the match, delivering a standout performance in a decisive fixture.

“I think, in the first 20–30 minutes, FC Goa came very strong, and when they got a little bit tired, we got a little bit on track. But I saw better games in terms of football,” Kratky shared.

Speaking in context, an animated Kratky commented, “But again, everything is at stake when you play to keep going in the tournament. There are emotions, and everything is at stake. So tactically, I think both teams are very strong. They know what they are trying to do. I would say it depends on what angles you look at.”

“We won it 2-0. We absorbed the pressure tactically, we were well organized, and the boys worked hard. So, it depends on which angle you are looking for. But as I said, I saw more high-quality games before,” he continued.

With his goal against the Gaurs, Chhangte has now scored his tenth goal of the season, marking the third instance for an Indian player to achieve this milestone. The Mizo forward has accumulated a total of 16 goal contributions for the Islanders this year, maintaining a goal involvement in each of his last eight appearances.

Praising his dynamic Indian forward, Kratky said,

“He (Chhangte) is very important, as I said in the last game as well. He is a very good player.”

“He is bouncing back and performing well. We have to keep him up. He deserves everything that he has done, gets rewarded with goals, and is helping the team as much as he can. I am very happy for him. So he needs to keep going and working as hard as he does, and he is very important to us,” he added.

The Islanders are set to confront Mohun Bagan Super Giant in the final at the Salt Lake Stadium this Saturday, in a rematch of their final league encounter. They succumbed to defeat against the Mariners and lost the League Shield during their last clash, and they will now look to change the outcome in their favour.

"It will be a fantastic game with more than six thousand people. We know the quality of Mohun Bagan SG and we also know what we have done wrong over there. We will try to improve and a little bit different team (in comparison to) when we’re there in the (last) game. We can be better than we played there, we just have to recover, regroup, and get excited about this (FC Goa) game but move on and focus on the last game of the season which will be very good," Kratky commented.