We want to be more aggressive and play exciting football: Mumbai City FC’s Des Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham has shown tremendous faith in his team and believes that they will make their mark in the best way possible towards the end of the season, as they take on SC East Bengal in Match 98 of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season at the PJN Stadium in Margao, Goa on Tuesday evening.

The Islanders will be set to defend the ISL League Winners Shield and hope to advance in the top four against a bottom-placed SC East Bengal. Buckingham has urged his players to put in their best efforts and give out a full-fledged performance during the 90 minutes in order to finish the season as strongly as possible.

The Islanders head coach addressed the media during the official pre-match press conference.

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

You are approaching this match after a loss, and in the context of qualifying for the top four and the ISL League Shield, how do you see this match? How crucial will it be to win this match?

Going into this one, we know there are four games left, but then again, it’s important that East Bengal, regardless of where they are on the table right now, have a different way of working with a new coach. They will be a tough team, but we must only focus on this game, and we know how important it is for us in the club to set us up for the last three games.

How hard is it a problem for the coaching staff to sustain the right mood in the camp after the previous game, which obviously makes things a little harder to retain the Shield?

The mood in the camp has never been a problem. And I think that's where you go back to having good people as well as good players in this environment. I’ve spoken all season about a sense and feeling of family amongst this group and I certainly still see that and feel that the group are very clear on what we want to do and how we want to achieve it until that's not possible.

They’re very upbeat and ready to make sure that we can approach this game which will set us up for the final three to put ourselves in the best position come the end of the season.

Mumbai City FC shifted to a 4-3-3 after Jahouh’s injury. Can we see the same system being continued in the upcoming games?

When we made the change, we brought Vinit [Rai] on to continue playing with our two holders. I just felt the way Jamshedpur were playing, we need to get more opportunities to get in behind them. You know, they're very good defensively, very strong, and I felt that the way we played in front of them allowed them to play to their strengths.

So, we changed that system at halftime and brought players on to try to exploit those spaces that we had in the first half, and it worked really well. With the way East Bengal play, they have a new coach, they have a couple of different ways set up. So, it will depend upon a couple of things. One, regarding Jahouh, whether or not he’s fit, and the other will depend on how we think they will play to see what team we field and what team we feel will get the best result from that gap.

SC East Bengal are at the bottom of the table, so there’s an expectation for Mumbai City FC to beat them. So, does this add pressure on the team and how the coach handles this situation so that the players don’t succumb to that question?

Yes, we’ve seen that all along that teams, regardless of their league positions, are able to beat anyone. We saw that the other night with NorthEast, so, we can’t turn our attention away from making sure that we perform to the top of our ability and level that we have, against East Bengal because we’ve played them once already.

For me, we dropped two points, we should’ve come away with three, but we know how important this game is to us, not just in the context of where we are in the league but also about making sure we put ourselves in the position that we want to, come the end of the game, which is to finish strong and to make sure we set ourselves up well for the final three games.

Four more games to go in the league stage, are there any goals or objectives that you hope to achieve within that span of time?

Yes, we want to pick up as many points as we can. There’s 12 on offer and that’s a target that we know we’re going to need to get close to if we want to finish the season in the semi-finals and hopefully higher up. And the other will be, to continue trying to play as well as we can to our identity and our style that, you know, we’ve shown patches and parts over either half of football or close to full games. But it’s important now that we start putting those performances together over the full period of 90 or 96 minutes like it was the other week.

Looking at how Mumbai City FC had to settle for a draw last time, will the team focus on a more aggressive approach, or will it remain the same?

This game we want to be more aggressive. I’ve said all along, I want to be excited watching our team play from the sidelines and I want to see us playing attacking football and that’s something that we’re trying to take into every game and that won’t change going into this one.

We want to score goals; we need to make sure we tighten up defensively which we haven’t done in the last couple of games. But for me, it’s about going out to attack teams, I want to go out and win games and win them well. I’m not going into the game to try and take a point or two to try not to lose. That’s a very important part of me as a coach and it’s an especially important part to us as a club.

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