Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham expressed pride in helping his team qualify for the AFC Champions League 2023-24 group stage after a 3-1 win over Jamshedpur FC in the Hero Club Playoffs in Manjeri, Kerala on Tuesday. 

Goals from Ahmed Jahouh, Alberto Noguera and Vikram Partap Singh were enough for the Islanders to secure their place in the Asian premier club competition for the second time in their history. 

Match Report: Mumbai City FC see off Jamshedpur FC to qualify for AFC Champions League group stage

Buckingham who guided Mumbai City FC to second place in their group the last time they were in the competition, felt grateful to have the chance to do it again. 

“I feel very proud to be able to represent not just our club but also Indian football at the highest level in club football in Asia,” Buckingham said in the post-match press conference. 

“The opportunity that lies in front of us now is exciting. The full cycle of the last 12 months has been a very good journey. From playing in the Champions League, winning two games, then reaching the Durand Cup final, winning the League Winners' Shield to now qualifying for Asia again has been great. We have come the full circle and it's an exciting year ahead of us,” he added. 

Jamshedpur FC made it tough for the Islanders but their quality shone through eventually. Buckingham credited his team’s temperament for victory in this crucial fixture. 

“We knew Jamshedpur FC's threats. They have some good players and are very strong on set plays and that's where they have scored from. Things can quickly unravel but there was no panic. The players that were on the pitch or the ones that came on were very clear about what they wanted to do, so that was very pleasing,” he said. 

Buckingham was also full of praise for the crowd that turned up in the stadium and expressed excitement at playing the upcoming Super Cup campaign at that very venue. 

"The atmosphere in the stadium was also great. If we can have more of that in the Hero Super Cup, our games would be great," he said.

Jamshedpur FC head coach Aidy Boothroyd felt his team were beaten by a much stronger outfit on the night despite their best efforts to thwart them. 

“I thought we started the game very well but in the second half, they grew stronger and stronger and made it difficult for us,” he said. 

Mumbai City FC and Jamshedpur FC will now be in action in the Hero Super Cup that begins from April 8 in Kerala.