Following a dominant 3-0 win over FC Goa in its season-opener, Mumbai City FC will look to dish out another performance worthy of the defending champion tag when it meets Hyderabad FC at the Fatorda Stadium in Margao on Saturday.
In what will be the first-ever late kick-off in the Indian Super League (ISL 2021-22), with the match scheduled to begin at 9.30 p.m., Des Buckingham’s men will look to display the same verve they did against Goa by pressing high and attacking relentlessly.
Forward Igor Angulo, last-season’s Golden Boot winner but discarded by FC Goa, showed what he was capable of by scoring a brace. For a side that lost proven strikers in Adam Le Fondre and Bartholomew Ogbeche from the title-winning side, it was a shot in the arm.
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Hyderabad coach Manolo Marquez, looking for his first win over Mumbai, will be wary of this threat as he tries to overcome an early blip that Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Chennaiyin FC was.
The side can ill-afford to be as wasteful as it was against Chennaiyin and Marquez will hope that Ogbeche, now at Hyderabad, will soon start troubling defenders.
The Mumbai defence, led by skipper Mourtada Fall, is expected to be much tighter than a depleted Goa’s, but the fact that Buckingham’s side plays an expansive style similar to Hyderabad’s may lead to an open game with ample goal-scoring opportunities.
“We need to arrive with more players in the box and to be more clinical,” Marquez said ahead of the match. “We’re doing very well, but we need to improve in this area. We wanted to play good football but to play good football is not to take the ball, pass it and have 65 per cent of the possession. We need to create more spaces.”
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Buckingham seems to be well aware of what Hyderabad is capable of. “We’re aware of their strengths. The coach has got them very well organised, playing a very good standard of football,” the Englishman said. “We fought against them in the pre-season so we’ve had a taste of that. We are ready for what we need to be ready for.”
He will however miss the services of wingback D. Vignesh, who will be out for up to six weeks following an ankle injury against FC Goa. Attacker Halicharan Narzary is expected to miss out for Hyderabad, following a knee injury versus Chennaiyin.