ANI Photo | Durand Cup: Mumbai City up against home side Mohun Bagan Super Giant in final last eight clash

The football-crazy city’s hallowed Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (VYBK) is all set to witness yet another blockbuster game of football, when reigning Indian Super League (ISL) premiership winners Mumbai City FC (MCFC) come up against home side Mohun Bagan Super Giant (MBSG) in the fourth and final quarter-final of the 132nd Durand Cup. The kick-off is at 6 pm Indian Standard Time (IST).
The Juan Ferrando-schooled MBSG had to undergo some anxious moments before confirming their place in the last eight, but fans are justified to believe that they had done enough in the tournament to deserve their place in the knockouts.
Ferrando, with two AFC Cup games on his mind, appeared outwitted by Emami East Bengal’s Carles Cuadrat in the Kolkata derby, however, their performances against the Bangladesh Army and Punjab FC, their other two opponents left no doubt on the quality and depth they possessed as a side. They followed up the derby blip up with two thoroughly professional wins in their AFC cup games and the latest attacking signing Jason Cummings too seems to have settled down now.
Here is how Juan Ferrando summed things up in pre-match conversations, “Mumbai City FC are preparing for the AFC Champions League and we are preparing for the AFC Cup. So for both of the teams this match is going to be a good practice match. Mumbai is a difficult opponent. They have some good wingers along with Chhangte , Bipin , Mehtab and Akash. They also have good foreigners like Greg Stuart. But even our team has also played two consecutive matches and is ready and tomorrow it’s going to be a good game. We will try our best to win. But before playing I would like to mention that Mumbai has got a break of ten days and we have got only three days before this match.
MBSG captain Subhashish Bose also acknowledged the strength of his opponents as well as some of his own team’s weaknesses when he said, “This time as a captain I want the match to go in our favour. In the last two matches we have scored 6 goals that too even two foreign clubs. But yes we conceded. Our midfield has to be compact tomorrow if we don’t want to concede goals tomorrow so that it reduces the pressure on the defence line.”
Further analysing the game he said, “The biggest thing is that Cummings and Sadiku have scored goals. Mumbai has good wingers even though we too have good wingers who have played brilliantly against Dhaka Abahani. The Mumbai team is good in set pieces. But they definitely have some loopholes which our coaches and video analysts have pointed out. We will play tomorrow according to our coaches’ planning. But definitely, we want to give our 100 per cent tomorrow and win the game.”
The Islanders of course are also the most drilled and settled unit in the country with Des Buckingham now firmly in charge and the nucleus of the team now playing with a lot of cohesion and understanding. Not to mention the quality of the side which is packed with the best of Indian footballers and strong foreign signings as mentioned by the MSSG coach and captain as well.”
Des Buckingham was his usual calm confident self on the eve of the match saying among other things, “For us, it wasn’t about starting anew this year. It was about recognizing a lot of the good work that certainly has been built and was on show last season and taking a large part of that with us to this year. Now it’s about the continuation of that which will allow us to evolve and get better. In the three games we’ve had in the Durand Cup, we’ve tried quite a few different things. We had a chance to look at different players and different ways of doing certain things. It’s been a good start, but that’s all it’s been. So I’m very happy with where we are at the moment and I’m very much looking forward to what’s to come.”
Also weighing in was their newest heavyweight Indian signing Akash Mishra who said, “I think it will be nice to play against Mohun Bagan, but as the coach said, the most important thing is we have to focus on ourselves and how we want to play. And I think that is the most important thing. So we are trying to put more focus on ourselves, not on the opposition, so we’ll try to play our style of football and we’ll try to do the things that Coach wants on the ground and try to be positive.”
They will certainly need every bit of positivity with the prospect of a hugely one-sided and boisterous home crowd expected to egg their team on every minute. All roads in Kolkata will indeed lead to the VYBK come Sunday evening, with a cracker of a contest expected.

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