Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham urged his players to give their absolute best in their sixth and final match of the AFC Champions League campaign as they clash against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya (Air Force Club) of Iraq at King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Wednesday.

Buckingham is delighted with the performances put up by his team throughout the competition and wants his players to finish the continental tournament in the best possible manner, by winning the match and securing the best possible position in the group table.

Ahead of their final matchup against Air Force Club, the Islanders head coach addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:

Please give us a brief on the preparations for Wednesday’s match against Air Force Club.

We’ve had two days of recovery and we’ll train again later this evening to get ready for what’s going to be, hopefully, a good finish to this tournament for us. So, we’re going to prepare as well as we can. The players have got as much rest and recovery to get them as fresh as they can for the final game and it’s one that we want to finish off well.   

This is the last game and it impacts the mentality of the players, so, what has been the biggest benefit of playing in the AFC Champions League?

Yes, it’s the final game. I spoke to the players on Monday regarding this. It’s almost a story for us to create history as we go because it hasn’t been done before what we’ve done. It’s like when you watch a film or read a book, you know, it gets you hooked at the start. We had a good first three rounds where we came and tried to play a style of football, and show what Indian football can do on this stage.

I was very pleased after the three games, so in terms of the film and the book, it was a good start and got people interested and now it’s important, same as those books and films, that we have a good ending. We’ve worked as hard as we can, the players are all striving and we’ll do our best to make sure it’s a nice ending for us to get on the plane and go home.

The biggest benefit is going to be both short-term and long-term. Playing against these teams, and for the players that we have here to recognise the differences between our own Indian Super League, and the quality of the players, the teams that play here in this competition.

The long-term benefit, both for our team and other teams that have come here and will come here, it’s to test yourself against the best because this is the best club competition that you can compete at, and there’s some wonderful teams, some fantastic players, and for our players to get the opportunity to come here and not just compete but show they can compete and win results as well. That stands us in a good stead now but those experiences over a period of time will really help develop our football.

How does Mumbai City FC’s participation in this tournament contribute to the promotion of the team in the football market?

Yes, I spoke about it in the first press conference before we came here. We were coming here not just to represent our club Mumbai City FC, we were coming here to represent a league that we play in, the Indian Super League, but we’re also coming here to represent Indian football, as only a team that’s been in this competition for the second time.

I’ve been extremely proud of these players to showcase their qualities and the football that they’ve played and the individual abilities of them, and I think I speak for the people and certainly the I’ve had the message back from home in India, very proud of what this group has gone on to achieve but we’re not finished, we want to make sure we finish off this journey and this historical moment for our club and for Indian football as well as we can and it’s important that we do that and approach in the right manner on Wednesday.