Mumbai City FC midfielder Vinit Rai - who joined them on loan during last season from Odisha FC - opened up on his move to the Islanders citing a new challenge and the intense competition in the squad, which will immensely benefit him as a player, as the reason for a move to the former Hero ISL champions.

The Des Buckingham-coached side are stacked up with quality midfielders in Ahmed Jahouh, Alberto Noguera, Apuia (Lalengmawia Ralte), and Rowllin Borges and the addition of Rai will see the side battling to field the best midfielders.

“I was a key member of the Odisha side, but I wanted a new challenge and Mumbai City FC are one of the top clubs in the country. There is so much competition for my spot at the Islanders, I have to fight to get my place in the team,” Vinit told Sportskeeda.

“That will make me a better player, there will not be a single day where I will be low in concentration or intensity. The real competition is with me to improve my game and always try to be the best in the game whenever I get a chance,” added the midfielder.

Rai was a starter at Odisha FC under the helm of then manager Kiko Ramirez where the midfielder commanded the centre of the park alongside the likes of Jerry Mawihmingthanga and Isaac Chhakchhuak. Nevertheless, at MCFC, the 24-year-old will need to up his game and adhere to the tactics and drills set up by head coach Des Buckingham.

“I look up to him whenever he is on the pitch and I try to learn a lot from him. The way he keeps calm and composed and the way he plays, I try to implement those things in training and during matches. He is like an idol to me in this league,” the midfielder added.

The Islanders fell short of success in the Hero ISL 2021-22 season as they weren’t able to put up a tough fight to defend their title and finished their campaign in the fifth position with 31 points. However, the side found an accomplishment in their AFC Champions League journey, as they became the first Indian club to register a victory in the intra-continental competition.

“I am very glad that I was a part of the MCFC family in the AFC Champions League, where we made history and won games. The important thing was that we played well and were confident. We could have earned some more points, but we could not this time. I think we are all proud of what we were able to achieve though,” added Rai on their AFC Champions League journey.

With Buckingham having a great track record of developing players and improving their performance on the pitch as he did with Vikram Partap Singh last season, Rai stands a great chance to flourish under him and develop his attributes as a midfielder.

“I think it is very important for a player to know what he is doing right and what he is doing wrong. Ever since joining MCFC, I can feel changes in my approach to matches and I can feel the changes in my playing style also. I am learning a lot under coach Des Buckingham and the assistant coaches. I am really enjoying my football under the coach,” Rai concluded.