The players continue to drive each other: Mumbai City FC's Des Buckingham

The head coach of Mumbai City FC, Des Buckingham, was delighted with his side's performace after they came out victorious against East Bengal FC with a 3-0 victory in the latest fixture of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium, in Kolkata, on Friday.

A brace from Lalengmawia Ralte and a goal from Greg Stewart ensured a comfortable win for the visitors, which took Mumbai City FC to 24 points after 10 games. The Islanders continue their extended unbeaten run to 10 matches and regained the top spot on the points table. 

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Buckingham was pleased with the clean sheet and the way his team has been scoring goals. He revealed that he is delighted to see the team not only scoring goals, but being solid at the back too. The Mumbai City FC head coach further heaped praise on his substitutes who made an impact after coming off the bench and mentioned it will help his team going into the next 10 games.

Here are the excerpts from Buckingham’s conference:

The team is in good spirit right now. How are you keeping the team occupied so that they do not take the weaker other teams for granted?

We have recruited good and good professionals, and that is why I see that result the way it is tonight. It was a good performance all around, and we do speak about the standards that we have been bringing into the club over the last 14 months. We have recruited based upon club profiles, based on how we want to play and we have recruited good professionals. On a daily basis, I get the pleasure of working with them day in and day out. And what you see what see on the pitch is what you see on the training field every single day.

They (players) continue to drive each other and when the standards aren't there, they hold each other accountable. They don't need the staff to do that. That is going to be important for the next 10 games.

Vikram Singh and Alberto Noguera are on your bench right now, but they played really well when they came on. Are they disappointed to not get into the starting lineup against a weaker opposition?

I wouldn't call East Bengal FC a weaker opposition, they have picked up good results against good teams. It was not us (today) so I am pleased that has happened. Vikram and Noguera have come on and made sure that we finish strong. Mourtada Fall has been our captain for the last two seasons, he started the first game (this season) and he has been patient. He recognises the squad that we have and how well the team is playing, regardless of the players.

When I talk about being a good professional and a good person, Fall epitomises the group. For a captain to step out and not get the game time that he thinks that he should get, be patient, work the way he has and be such a positive influence around our group, that speaks volumes. I will say the same about Noguera, Vikram and all other players at the moment. They maybe not starting, but you can see how important they are to us and have been to us so far and they will be (important) to us going forward. 

As you mentioned, tonight’s performance was another crucial one. What will you say about the opposition’s performance?

They made it difficult for us to play in the first half especially. They sat back and made it difficult for us to play through them through Greg Stewart and Apuia. We may have struggled last year, and we did struggle when we played them. The played in a similar way that we played them last time. But again, having the time with this playing group for the last 14 months now for 43-44 matches, we have been able to work on several different ways of playing regardless of how the opposition sets up against us.

It's so pleasing to see that if teams decide to sit back or press us and have a gameplan to stop us doing certain things, we have got different ways of doing it - whether it's as a team or the individuals like Apuia, who is starting to contribute to goalscoring. And it's also those who are coming off the bench and the impact they're making to ensure we finish strongly.  

You have a lot of players scoring for Mumbai City FC. Do you think that is a positive point considering the season?

Yeah, it is three goals and takes us to 30 goals. That is three goals a game and it is hugely pleasing in terms of how we want to play. We speak about being an attack-based team that wants to play expansive and exciting football, and hopefully, the goals show that. The pleasing thing for me was the clean sheet as well, because it is okay scoring goals, but we need to make sure if we want to be successful this season that we are solid at the other end.

Which opponent has been the most difficult to face in the first half of the season?

Every team has made it difficult as much as they can. Whether we score early or late, it is important that we stick true to what we do. The pleasing thing was that we got the goal in the first half and then we got a quick one in the second, which allowed us to build one (more). And only from those points (in the game), does it becomes less challenging. But until you get the goal and the breakthrough, you then try and see if the momentum stays in your favour. Every team has given us a different challenge, and the good thing is that we have been able to overcome it. And it's very important for us to keep doing it.

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