Preview: Winless Punjab FC face tough test against unbeaten Mumbai City FC
Mumbai City FC look to continue their unbeaten run as they welcome Punjab FC in Matchweek 6.
Mumbai City FC welcome Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 debutants Punjab FC to Mumbai Football Arena on November 2, Thursday, as the latter continues their quest of bagging their first victory of the campaign. This will be the inaugural fixture between the two teams in the ISL as the Islanders will eye a victory after a 1-1 draw against Hyderabad FC last week. Punjab faced a 5-1 loss to Chennaiyin FC as Staikos Vergetis and his side prepare to undertake one of their most challenging contests of the campaign in the backyard of the ISL 2022-2023 League Winner.
What’s at stake?
Mumbai City FC
The Des Buckingham-coached side has dropped two points from winning positions this season. But, Mumbai City FC have recorded eight comeback victories in the ISL since 2019-20, which is the second most after Odisha FC (11) in that time frame. The Islanders had a pretty consistent run where they rolled over opponents amidst their journey of finishing atop the standings last season, and they need to ring in greater balance to their performances to repeat that feat from the 2022-23 season.
“We didn’t expect coming from the last season to this level that we will just keep winning like last year. But, every game, we learn something new. Some games are better, some are worse. But, we are trying to improve from each game,” Punjab FC striker Luka Majcen said in an interaction ahead of their previous match. The team has endured obstacles at the start of their ISL journey but they need to collectively work towards finding their first win of the season.
Lalengmawia Ralte (Mumbai City FC)
Apuia has been dictating the tempo of the game from the centre of the park for Mumbai, recording an 88% passing accuracy and averaging 47 of those per game. He has netted once in four appearances and Buckingham will bank on him to help the team create goal-scoring opportunities from the tip of the midfield.
Krishnananda Singh (Punjab FC)
Krishnananda Singh bagged a compensatory goal for Punjab FC in their last match, but it was an effort that made heads turn due to the sheer power and accuracy behind the shot. The 27-year-old has aggregated only 176 minutes across four matches for the team, but he has managed to find the back of the net from his only shot on target as well. It will be interesting to see whether Vergetis entrusts him with added responsibility in this match.
This will be the first fixture between the two teams in the ISL.
Trivia: Apuia has the highest passing accuracy (88%) amongst all Mumbai City FC players in the ISL this season.
“They (Punjab FC) have got some good players. They have got a clear way they want to play. We need to be ready for that. To another team being added in the league, it’s great, because it gives us more games and more so for that region in particular, for the people around there, because it brings them so much closer to the sport,” Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham said in the pre-match press conference.
“In football, the gap between home and away games is not as different as it was before. We enjoy the atmosphere that the fans create, but it does not affect our performance. The atmosphere is nice, and we enjoy playing football in front of fans. Of course, it’s not exactly the same as the home games, but the gap is not so big,” Punjab FC head coach Staikos Vergetis addressed the challenges that come with taking on Mumbai City FC in their home ground.
Top picks & players to watch out for
Jorge Pereyra Diaz (8.9cr)
Scored four goals in four appearances in ISL 2023-24
Bipin Singh (7.5cr)
Was instrumental in creating the goal that handed Mumbai the lead in the match against Hyderabad
Juan Mera (7.9cr)
Has accumulated the most fantasy points (14) amongst all Punjab FC players this season
Where to Watch
Viacom18 is the new home of Indian football and the match between Mumbai City FC and Punjab FC will kick off at 8 PM on November 2, 2023. Fans across the country can catch the action in English, Hindi, Bengali, and Malayalam. Fans can watch the action on linear channels like Sports18 Khel (Hindi), Sports18 1 SD & HD (English), VH1 SD & HD (English), Surya Movies (Malayalam), DD Bangla & Colors Bangla Cinema (Bengali). In addition to this, as part of FSDL’s partnership with OneFootball, ISL live streams and highlights of all matches of the upcoming 2023-24 season will be delivered across more than 190 countries.
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