MUMBAI: Mumbai FC take on Salgaocar FC in their second home game of the season as they lock horns with the Greens from Goa at the Cooperage Ground on Friday.
On paper, it’s a no match. Going into the Round 6 Hero I-League encounter, Salgaocar are unbeaten in three matches. They have scored five goals and conceded one; and sit pretty at third position on the table, with just two points behind leaders Pune FC.
In a stark contrast, their opponents and hosts, Mumbai FC, have had anything but smooth sailing. They are yet to record a win this season, have scored just three goals and find themselves at the bottom of the 11-team table.
But matches are not won on paper and Derrick Pereira knows that. The veteran tactician returns to the ground where he has enjoyed most success in his managerial career and a win against Mumbai FC at the Cooperage would take his side to the top of the table, albeit temporarily until Pune FC and Royal Wahingdoh play their matches over the weekend.
Salgaocar come into the match with a comprehensive, morale-boosting 3-1 win over East Bengal. Much of their transformation after a slow start has been due to the return of their Scottish striker Darryl Duffy, who also scored a goal against the Kolkata giants.
Duffy combined brilliantly with midfielder Douhou Pierre and the duo caused plenty of problems for East Bengal. Pereira will be hoping for more of the same from them on Friday against a Mumbai defence that was hardly tested by Sporting Clube de Goa in the previous round.
Pereira said: “We had our best performance in the last match against East Bengal. Douhou and Darryl have played together for several matches and they’re combining well which is good for us. Khalid Jamil’s side has a reputation of being a tough opponent and we are expecting nothing less tomorrow.”
After enduring a poor start to the season, Mumbai FC put an improved show against fellow-strugglers Sporting Clube de Goa but lack of quality in the final third would be worrying for Khalid Jamil. Their Japanese acquisition Taisuke Matsugae was influential in the midfield but got little help from others up front.
In absence of quality support from their midfield, strikers Josimar da Silva and Mohammad Rafi have not been able to pose threat to rival defences.
Veteran midfielder Climax Lawrence is still a doubtful starter Mumbai. They’ve added Abhishek Yadav to their roster while Paresh Shivalkar too is fit to return. For Salgaocar, Karanjit Singh, Umesh Harijan and Saran Singh are still unfit but their marquee player Francis Kasonde will start Friday’s match, Pereira informed.
KO: Feb 13 @ 7 pm IST (Ten Action)