Guwahati (Assam) [India], September 25 (ANI): Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham was delighted with the result as his side secured all three points against NorthEast United FC in their opening match of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, in Guwahati, on Sunday.
The ISL League winners started the game on the front foot and went ahead through their Argentine forward Jorge Pereyra Diaz. Parthib Gogoi pulled the Highlanders back into the game with a brilliant finish. However, the Islanders restored the parity before the break as Diaz netted his second on the night. Both teams created several opportunities in the second half but could not find the back of the net.
“I think when we look back at this (result) later on in the season, we will realise how important these three points are or will be,” Buckingham said in the official post-match press conference as quoted by an ISL press release.
“I think coming here, the first game of the season, a lot of travel for us as well, but to come here against what is very different NorthEast (side). We knew they were going to be strong and from what I have just seen on the pitch there, we have had to do a lot to come away with this result, which I am extremely happy with but I have no doubt that – NorthEast United FC will cause a lot of problems, certainly at home,” he explained.
The Englishman believes that his side will only improve here on and like the previous season, they would need some more matches to build that cohesion and confidence among them.
“It is more about sharpness for us now. The more games we play, same as last year, probably after three or four games, (when we played against Kerala Blasters FC) when we had that sharpness that allowed us to do well. That will come,” Buckingham stated.
“This is just our second game after the AFC Champions League game, the other night and now it is about making sure that we keep our squad as fresh and fit as we can,” he added.
Diaz seemed to start from where he left off last season. The forward bagged a brace and looked full of confidence inside the opponent’s box.
Praising the Argentine, Buckingham said, “We know we’re a very different team with Diaz when he plays, not just because of his finishing, but the way he presses and understands how we want to play. He’s a very important player alongside, obviously, the others that work so well with him, like they did last year.”
Mumbai City FC will now travel to Bhubaneswar to take on Sergio Lobera’s Odisha FC on September 28 whereas the Highlanders will host Chennaiyin FC for their respective second game of the season on September 29.