After spending a year and a half on loan at Mumbai City FC, Vinit Rai has successfully secured a permanent move with the Islanders, ensuring his presence at the club until the end of the 2023-24 season.

The midfielder had initially joined from Odisha FC back in January 2022 and swiftly integrated into Des Buckingham's system. The philosophy of playing from the back aligns perfectly with Rai's strengths, as he excels at distributing the ball upfront and spreading it to the wings. He is equally adept in his defensive duties where he consistently seeks to intercept the opposition's attacks.

Speaking in an interview with Khel Now, Rai praised the Mumbai City FC head coach and his coaching staff and explains how their insights have significantly improved his gameplay.

“Des Buckingham and the entire coaching staff have been incredibly beneficial to me. They consistently make an effort to connect with me after each match, providing detailed insights into my performance. They highlight my strengths during the game and express their appreciation for those moments. Additionally, they pinpoint areas where I can enhance my performance and generate better results. These valuable interactions have significantly contributed to my progress over the past year,” Rai told Khel Now.

The ISL League Winners were in a league of their own last season as they achieved the unprecedented feat of an 18-game unbeaten run. Their style of play win them many admirers. In their historic ISL campaign, the Islanders scored the most number of goals (54) in a single season and also accumulated the most points (46) in a single campaign.

The 25-year-old, who was an integral part of Mumbai City FC's stellar campaign, shared insights into the factors contributing to their success. He also underscored the importance of maintaining focus and adhering to their game plan to achieve the same level of success this season.

“The success we attained in the previous season was a result of the efforts put in last year. This achievement is attributed to the dedicated coaching staff, the players, and all those who supported the club,” Rai stated.

“To maintain this level of success, we must remain committed to our game plan and have faith in our coach’s guidance. We will strive to implement his strategies both during matches and training sessions, as this approach proved effective in the previous season. Trusting in his methods, we aim to replicate our achievements on the field once again,” he added.

During his first-year loan stint, Rai featured in the AFC Champions League with the Islanders, where they had an outstanding campaign, finishing second in their group with two wins and a draw. Mumbai City FC are once again set to represent India at Asia's biggest club competition this season and are determined to progress to the knockout stage, which they narrowly missed out on last season.

Drawn alongside the likes of Neymar's Al Hilal, Nassaji Mazandaran of Iran, and Uzbekistan's Navbahor in the Group Stage, their task will be even more challenging this time. However, they are committed to giving their best to achieve a better outcome than in the previous term.

“I had the privilege of participating in the 2021-22 tournament. The feeling of being part of that squad fills me with immense joy, as it marks a proud moment in my career. The significance of the achievements we accomplished and the historical milestones we reached during that time cannot be overstated; those memories will forever remain ingrained in my mind,” expressed the midfielder.

“Similarly, this year, we find ourselves with a formidable team and a roster of exceptional players. Our primary focus is to improve upon our previous performances continually. Despite finishing second in the group stages last time, we, unfortunately, didn’t progress to the next round. Our foremost objective for the upcoming tournament remains to secure a place beyond the group stages. It’s important to remember that we aren’t just representing Mumbai, but the entirety of India. Our success would evoke a sense of pride throughout the nation. With this in mind, we are committed to giving our very best and striving for even better outcomes compared to our last endeavour,” Rai commented.

In addition to performing well in the AFC Champions League, the midfielder is determined to retain the League Shield and improve upon that performance to achieve the 'Double' this time, a feat they narrowly missed out on last season.

“I’m thrilled about the upcoming Indian Super League season, especially with the addition of new players to our squad. We have a strong core from last season, and our goal is to defend the League Shield and clinch the Indian Super League Title!” Rai stated.