Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham is confident about his team turning the tie around in the second leg of the semi-final against Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium, in Bengaluru, on Sunday.
The Blues hold a 0-1 advantage with an away win in the first leg, but it’s all to play for in the second and the decisive leg in Bengaluru.
The ISL and its two-legged semi-final fixtures have never been short of excitement and drama and Buckingham believes his side will give a performance worthy of champions and hopes to take the team to just their second ISL final in history.
“It was a one-off game, and my team will give a reaction. The good thing is, up until the point we conceded from the set-piece we had control of the game and created chances. We just couldn’t hit the target,” Buckingham said in the official pre-match press conference.
“We have got a group of players who know exactly what we need to do, and the beauty of knockout games is that it always presents you with a chance, so we are ready and so are the players,” he added.
The Englishman is expecting a similar game on Sunday as the first leg and wants his players to not lose focus on key moments like set pieces. Defending set pieces has been one of the few problems his team have faced throughout the season and Buckingham wants them to work on it.
“I expect a very similar game (as the first leg), and it does not change what we need to do which is to win the game. It would be the same if it was 0-0. So it (the plan) does not really change too much. We will go there (Bengaluru) and give everything we have to come away with what we know we have to do at the start of the two legs. Yes, it does play a barring. But still being in and around the fixture, is very important (to keep the score down to) 1-0.. We have 54 goals in 20 (games this year), so have goals in us. I am very much looking forward to the game on Sunday,” he stated.
Bengaluru FC, unbeaten in 10 games, have been solid overall on the pitch, especially in defence. The Blues have let in only seven goals and collected four clean sheets during their unbeaten run. The fans will be eager to see how the Islanders, who have won the most away games (eight), and scored the most number of goals (54) in 20 games fare in a do-or-die situation against the resolute Bengaluru FC defence.
“This was the first time we have not scored with our first team this season. We are creating chances. We have played worse than that this year and won games 3-0 or 4-0. We are creating chances which didn’t hit the target. We know we haven’t got too much to do. We just have to get better in those final moments. But we also got to have different ways of doing things at certain times. We have had some time to rest, the players are hungry, and so is the staff, and we’ll make sure we have got doing different things to get through the game,” he added.
The Englishman was accompanied by Greg Stewart who has been instrumental and key to the Islanders’ League Shield win. He has been in the thick of things with 15 goal involvements throughout the campaign.
The man from Scotland will again look to showcase his talent and come up with the goods against a Bengaluru FC side with momentum on their side and is confident enough to win the battles on the pitch.
“We played well in the last game. We have a lot of goals in the team, so it is not a concern, the game is far from finished, and I am excited, along with my teammates, to overcome the hurdle on Sunday,” Stewart said in the pre-match press conference.
Greg Stewart, having won the League Shield with Jamshedpur FC in the previous season, feels no shortage of motivation to play alongside a talented pool of players at Mumbai City FC, who he believes are capable of overturning any result.
“We have set our standards, and if anyone goes below them, then we have to let each other know about it because everyone knows what this team is capable of doing. We will reflect back when the season is finished, but right now we are focused on working hard,” he concluded. (ANI)