Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham is optimistic ahead of their first home game of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season against Kerala Blasters FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday.

The ISL League Winners started the campaign with a 2-1 victory over NorthEast United FC, followed by a thrilling 2-2 draw with Odisha FC. Now, they will face another unbeaten side in the league, Kerala Blasters FC, who are coming off two consecutive home wins.

Buckingham enthusiastically shared insights into the team's morale as they prepare for the highly anticipated clash this Sunday.

"The mood is good around the team. We are four games into the season. We had a big travel week but we have got everyone fit, fresh and available for tomorrow. We have had a good start to our campaign, two tough away games against Northeast and Odisha but we came back with four points out of six so we are very much looking forward to getting back out in the MFA(Mumbai Football Arena) and playing in front of our own fans," Buckingham said in the pre-match press conference.

“We are in the very early part of our season. And we also know how important the ISL is, and we need to make sure we can continue the momentum through the season,” he added.

Kerala Blasters FC have begun the campaign on a high note, with their captain, Adrian Luna, once again serving as the linchpin of their attack. The Uruguayan has found the back of the net in both games. Buckingham, who has previously worked alongside Luna, shared his thoughts on the captain's current form

"I have been fortunate to work with Adrian Luna during my time in Melbourne City FC for two seasons. We know that he is a good player, so it is no surprise that he continues to perform at this level. We have had successful outings against Kerala last season. They are a very good team and we are looking forward to playing in the MFA against them."

The Islanders had to travel to Uzbekistan for their second AFC Champions League group-stage game on Tuesday, which prompted the head coach to rotate his players due to the busy schedule. He emphasized the need to change personnel in the starting eleven regularly to keep the squad fresh and to field the best possible team for each game.

"We have made three changes to each of our last two games in our starting eleven. We have done that for reasons like freshening the squad up, on view on what is to come and to make sure that we put out what we feel is our best team. So there will always be change. We have to manage our group, especially with what has been a very busy week for us in terms of travel. We have travelled for 46 hours in total from leaving for Uzbekistan to getting back to India so we have done well enough and deserve to be where we are in terms of competing and giving ourselves the chance to be at that level. So we have to accept what comes with it. It is making sure that we have a plan around how we do that to keep our players available for selection for future matches," stated the Englishman.

However, Buckingham is excited to be finally back on the home turf and he is expecting a great atmosphere from the home supporters on Sunday.

"I think anyone that has been to the MFA knows that our crowd is our twelfth man. We know that we don't have the biggest fanbase but anyone that is fortunate enough to experience the atmosphere that the fans create, it is a very different experience," he said.

Mumbai City FC forward Vikram Partap Singh joined Des Buckingham in the pre-match press conference. The winger, who provided the assist for the crucial equalizer against Odisha FC, echoed his head coach's excitement about the home supporters.

"It is always special playing in front of our home crowd. Every time we score or we are down, they cheer us to lift us up and it feels good. It always feels good and everyone feels motivated with that."

Singh shared his thoughts on facing Kerala Blasters FC and expressed his eagerness to play against them.

"Playing against Kerala feels good because they have a huge fan following and they have a really good team this time. They are unbeaten from the last two matches so I think everyone is motivated to play against them."