Mumbai City FC will be eyeing their first ‘home’ win of the season when they take on Kerala Blasters in an Indian Super League game here on Thursday. The Jorge Costa-managed team have played two ‘home’ games this season at their usual fortress the Mumbai Football Arena in suburban Andheri but suffered defeat on both the occasions.
First, it was Odisha FC who stunned Mumbai with a 4-2 win here and later, FC Goa defeated the hosts by a similar margin on November 7. Moreover, this would be Mumbai’s first ‘home’ game after it was announced that the City Football Group has acquired majority of shares in the team.
Both Mumbai and Kerala are placed in the lower half of the points table and a win would help them improve their position. Mumbai have played six games so far, of which they have won one, drawn three and lost two. Kerala have also played six, won one, drawn two and lost three. The hosts will have their hopes pinned on Tunisian forward Amine Chermiti, who is their leading goal scorer so far this season with three goals to his name.
The Kerala defence will have a tough time if Chermiti fires on all cylinders. However, all eyes will be on Mumbai’s another key player their forward Modou Sougou, who hasn’t had the best time. One good game is enough for Sougou to prove his mettle and he will be hoping that the game against Kerala would be the one.
Mumbai have equally strong midfielders comprising Paulo Machoda, Raynier Fernades, Rowlin Borges, Bipin Singh, Mohamed Larbi, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Rafique. Their mid-fielder Diego Carlos is out due to an injury. They will have to be on their toes to keep the Kerala forwards at bay.
Their line will be manned by Pratik Chaudhari, Mato Grgic and Sauvik Chakrabarti. Mumbai’s defence is definitely an area of concern and they would have to put a strong show if they want to record their second win of the season. The role of their custodian Amrinder Singh, who has so far made 17 saves in the tournament, will also be of utmost importance.
Amrinder would expect to keep a clean sheet. Mumbai coach Costa admitted that the team is under pressure to deliver victories. “We are playing under pressure because we need points. We need to be close to the part (in the table) we want and I think that we deserve it,” Costa said.
Speaking about the team’s performance, the Mumbai coach said, “It is always a problem when you lose points because of an individual’s mistake. However, the good thing we must take away from the last two games is that we are playing as a team and we are playing good.”
For Kerala, its coach would want forward Bartholomew Ogbeche and Messi Bouli to play to their potential. Their midfielders and defenders also will have to play to their potential if Mumbai have to stopped in their own den. Kerala Blasters continue to be without the services of Gianni Zuiverloon in defence, Mario Arques and Moustapha Gning in midfield.
Their replacements in the starting line-up have done reasonably well, especially Jeakson Singh, who is particularly composed and mature beyond his age.