MUMBAI: After enduring a troubled start to the season, bottom-placed Mumbai FC will hope for a sweet homecoming when they take on fellow-strugglers Sporting Clube de Goa in Round 4 match of the Hero I-League at the Cooperage on Sunday.
Mumbai FC will play on home soil for the first time in five years after the stadium was closed for renovation since 2010. The last time Mumbai FC played at the iconic South Mumbai venue, in May 2010, they upset Mohun Bagan 2-0. Khalid Jamil will hope for a similar performance from his boys on Sunday against Sporting Clube de Goa when they return to the new-look stadium.
Despite the failure to garner a single point so far, Jamil exuded confidence head of the first home match. “I can guarantee that we will do well in the I-League whenever we play at the Cooperage ground. Playing in front of home fans gives you an extra push. Somehow you are always motivated to play your best when the stadium is full and everyone is cheering for you,” the 37-year-old beamed.
Jamil added his side has been unlucky to not have points to its name despite putting up some credible performances the first three matches, especially against Pune FC in the previous round, a match which they narrowly lost.
Worryingly for Mumbai, their defence hasn’t lived up to the reputation. Known for their resilience, Mumbai FC were known to grind out results when they faced teams superior to them but their defence has crumbled far too easily this season.
They’ve been vulnerable from the set-pieces as well, conceding two goals against Pune FC from corners. While the defensive errors have cost them dear, the forward line, led by Brazilian Josimar da Silva, too has lacked sharpness.
Attacking concerns have plagued Sporting Clube de Goa as well. Mateus Costa’s side has found the back of the net just once in their three matches despite having the likes of Boima Karpeh, Ogba Kalu and Anthony Wolfe in their ranks. Bikash Jairu has scored their only goal of the campaign so far.
Costa was hopeful that the experience of marquee player Miguel Garcia combined with the youthful exuberance of Sandesh Jhingan and Brandon Fernandes will boost the side in the coming matches. Costa informed on Saturday that all three players are travelling with the team and are likely to take the field against Mumbai.
Another challenge that Sporting will face is to get used to the artificial playing surface at Cooperage. Mumbai FC have played local league matches on the ground and have held several practice sessions to get accustomed to the pitch. Sporting, on the other hand, haven’t had that luxury and trained here just once. But Costa was unperturbed.
“The turf is not a problem. We will get used to it. The conditions are good and hopefully, we will put up a good performancetomorrow,” he said.
KO: 4:30 PM IST (Ten Action)