Stuck true to what we wanted to come away with a win: Mumbai City FC’s Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham was exhilarated to see his side take home all three points in his side’s 4-2 victory over Odisha FC in matchweek 13 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at the Kalinga Stadium, in Bhubaneswar, on Monday.

After a goalless first half, a goal from Bipin Singh and a brace from Lallianzuala Chhangte followed by additional help coming from substitute Alberto Noguera sealed the deal for Mumbai City FC in the second half. Striker Diego Mauricio was the lone goalscorer for Odisha FC as he struck twice to reduce the deficit.

This result marked the end of Odisha FC’s unbeaten run at home that lasted five games (four wins and one draw) whereas it extended the Islanders’ unbeaten run to 12 games. Buckingham applauded his side for sticking to their blueprint and coming out victorious whilst mentioning how difficult it has been for teams to win a game here.

“I'm extremely happy. We know, coming here, you know, that the teams have come here and tried to leave with three points and play well, and they've struggled. And for me, I thought the performance was very good, especially the second half, I thought the individual performances especially but as a team, we stuck true to what we wanted,” stated Buckingham in the official post-match press conference.

With his brace in tonight’s game, Chhangte became the joint-leading goalscorer in the league alongside Chennaiyin FC’s Abdenasser El Khayati and East Bengal FC’s Cleiton Silva. The Englishman asserted how significant it has been to see the improvement of the Indian players and see their contributions being rewarded.

“I think that Chhangte has now become the joint-top goalscorer in the league. We had spoken about trying to get Indian goalscorers and players in those types of charts and the contribution that they're providing to us to be successful was so important,” he said.

“There's a reason why they start every game, it's because they continually perform, whether it's the performances with the ball, whether it's the assist that they create, the chance they create, or even scoring goals like Chhangte did tonight,” he added.

It was a historic night for Mumbai City FC as they created not just one but two records. Firstly, Des Buckingham’s men have now equalled their own record of going 12 games unbeaten from the 2020-21 season. Further, with this win, they have matched Jamshedpur FC’s record of seven straight wins from last season.

Although quite the celebration, Buckingham stressed that his side is yet to achieve their set targets for the season, with focus being on the eight upcoming games.

“We're doing our best to try and play that way every game and be as good as we can. There's still a lot we need to do. And you know, we have eight more games to make sure we address some of those areas,” he said.

The 37-year-old also handed out a first appearance to youngster Asif Khan who made his Hero ISL debut by coming off the bench late in the game. Although the 21-year-old had limited gametime, Buckingham was appreciative of his efforts and the determination put in by the midfielder that led him to his first appearance.

“Asif’s worked extremely hard. Firstly, since I arrived here, but more so since the start of the season. He knew he was going to compete against a very strong midfield unit this year. But the way he's performed in training, the way he's adapted the way that he is now a professional footballer off of the field in terms of how he approaches his gym, and his nutrition, his recovery and rest has been superb,” he mentioned.

“He's a good example to the young players. And we have a lot of them in our club, of those types that if you do that, you'll get opportunities. And that was the message that was given to him at the start of the season,” he concluded.

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