Mumbai City bank on continuity, balance

Mumbai City FC have an advantage that no other team in this edition of the Hero Indian Super League enjoys. If you count out Alberto Roca at debutants Bengaluru FC and Steve Coppell, who has now joined a new team from last season, Alexandre Guimaraes is the only coach to have a second stint at an ISL club.

The CostaRican coach guided Mumbai City FC to their best finish last season when he tookthem to the semi-finals. With a little bit of discipline, they could have evenmade it to the final but lost against eventual champions ATK. 

Mumbai Cityhad a fantastic record in the last edition. They topped the table during theleague stage and conceded just 11 goals last season, three of which came in thedisastrous semi-final clash against ATK. No surprise Mumbai City reposed theirfaith in Guimaraes again as they look to do better than last season. 

“Continuityis the key. Moreover, there is a fantastic relationship between myself and theMumbai City FC board. They know me, they know the plans that I have beenproposing in pre-season this time around and, most importantly, given lastseason performance, there is a trust,” said Guimaraes. 

Not justwith the man in charge, Mumbai City have shown faith in the men who took themto the semi-final last year as well. Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh has beenretained, while Lucian Goian and Gerson Veira will continue to providedefensive solidity. In midfield, Leo Costa and Sehnaj Singh have got the voteof confidence from their coach, making them one of the definite contenders forthe title. 

“I thinkthat this year, we are more balanced in different positions than last season.Maintaining a balance was one of our key objectives at the draft and we'repleased to have achieved that, along with a host of great foreign signings. Andfor me, I believe that our balance will be our biggest strength in the seasonahead,” said the Mumbai City coach. 

Like thecoach said, balance is the key word for Mumbai City. In the goalkeepingdepartment for example, they have enough firepower if you count Amrinder Singhand Arindam Bhattacharya among the best in business in India. Even KunalSawant, their third goalkeeper, has been around for a while and proved himself. 

In defence,Lucian Goian and Gerson Veira combined so effectively last season that rival teamsfound it difficult to break through. They will be at the heart of Mumbai’sefforts to keep clean sheets again, while Achille Emana, who was once on theshopping list of French giants Olympique de Marseille and Lyon, can provide thecutting edge. 

“Ourpre-season was extremely fruitful. Like I mentioned, the continuity helps -with the players and with the staff as well. We faced some quality oppositionin friendlies. The conditions were good and the facilities were top-notch. Theplayers are satisfied and well prepared and our choice of conducting ourpre-season camp in Spain has definitely worked,” said Guimaraes. 

When MumbaiCity start their campaign at Bengaluru FC on Sunday, we will know whetherthey will set the pace again like last season. With Guimaraes in charge, youcannot rule that out.

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