Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham highlighted that his side will continue playing attacking football while keeping things tight at the back as the Islanders gear up to welcome NorthEast United FC in Matchweek 16 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena, in Mumbai, on Thursday.

Mumbai City FC currently lead the league standings, and are four points clear ahead of second-placed Hyderabad FC. With 36 points from 14 games, MCFC have already qualified for the playoffs. They lead the charts for the highest number of goals (41) and have conceded the second-fewest goals (13) in the Hero ISL so far. With the defenders putting on a shift, the team has conceded three goals in the last five fixtures. Buckingham shed light on how being defensively secure is very crucial for the team while playing an attacking brand of football.

"We want to be a team that goes out and plays attacking football and I think we've been able to show that over 14 games in the 41 goals we have scored that that's not going to change. What's very important if we want to be successful on top of that is how we defend and the pleasing thing is regardless of it being 1-0 or 2-1, it's the desire that I'm seeing not just from the goalkeeper, from the backline, is the desire across the pitch to protect our goal when we need to and how we do that. You know, we've got different ways that we try to do that. But that's going to be important. It has been important so far. It's a desire from every single player that takes the field to protect. We want to add to the 41 goals that we've certainly scored. But we also need to make sure that defensively we stay as sound and as solid as we can," " Buckingham said in the official pre-match conference.

The league leaders look to earn their 10th straight victory while Vincenzo Annese's NorthEast United FC aim to upset the Islanders and earn their second victory of the season.  In the reverse fixture in November, Mumbai City FC came out as winners with a scoreline of 3-1. Buckingham mentioned it will be a new test for his team as NorthEast United FC are a different team with a new coach and new signings.

"They (NorthEast United FC) are a very different team compared to when we last played. They have played seven games since we last played against them, they've lost but they've lost by one goal and in each of those games I think they could have picked points. Over the last three or four games they've actually picked results. Against ATK Mohun Bagan they won one-nil and then the game which we went to in person in Guwahati against FC Goa they picked up a draw. So they're picking up results now which wasn't what was happening before. Obviously a new coach, and new players so it's a very different test that we'll face. We know that but we're as prepared as we can be" Buckingham said.

Phurba Lachenpa, the goalkeeper of Mumbai City FC stole the limelight in the Islanders' last fixture against ATK Mohun Bagan, where the 24-year-old. Lachenpa registered five saves, helping his side secure a 1-0 win. He has kept six clean sheets for the Islanders in the current Hero ISL season. Buckingham was delighted with the performances of Lachenpa and added how the goalkeeper has made crucial saves throughout the season.

"I think very often that we talk about the outfield players and the goalscorers that get the credit often for the results that we've had so far but all the way through the season Phurba (Lachenpa) has made saves at important times in games and allowed us to go on and do that. It was a bit different in the last game where he made two very good saves, the one from Hugo (Boumous), which was a very good reaction save. And then the ones from the corner where (Carl) McHugh gets ahead and he manages to tip around the post otherwise I thought we defended as a group very well. But that's again we talk about a young player who is 24 now who has been very patient and has been in the Hero ISL for a long time," he said.

Buckingham talked about how the squad has handled the responsibility brilliantly with key players missing the matches for different reasons with Jorge Diaz and Lalengmawia Ralte sitting out of the previous fixture against ATK Mohun Bagan due to suspension and sickness respectively.

"We've got a squad. We showed that in the last game, we missed obviously, Diaz was suspended and Apuia was ill. But the pleasing thing was the players stepped in, Rowlin (Borges)  who's been working hard and got limited minutes is coming in and he contributed heavily to last week's result. And then of course the others that have stepped in in the meantime. So that depth that we have is tested and was tested last week. But what was pleasing was the players that came in to fill that. So whether this week or next week, we'll have to at some point make changes not just this week, but throughout the rest of the season. But the pleasing thing is the players that have come in, have done well," Buckingham concluded.