Mumbai City FC to face rivals FC Goa in their ISL opener
Margao: Defending champions Mumbai City FC will open their Indian Super League campaign against FC Goa in a high-voltage clash here on Monday.
The two sides have faced each other 18 times, with Mumbai City FC having won five matches, losing seven and drawing six.
Both teams have developed a bit of rivalry in the last couple of seasons due to their frequent meetings in the knockout stage.
FC Goa, who finished fourth last season, have retained a lot of their core players besides their coach Juan Ferando. They started the pre-season quite early and also won the Durand Cup.
In contrast, Mumbai City appointed a new head coach Des Buckingham in place of Sergio Lobera.
Buckingham, who has been in India for barely a month, said he would not want to dwell on something which is not in hands, wanting to focus on things he and his players can control.
"We've done as much as we could have done in the time we've had. I think anywhere in the world, you'd like more time with players on and off the field. But, you know, we haven't had that," Buckingham said candidly at the pre-match conference.
"So what we've had to do is make very good use of the time we've had with this group. We've spent a lot of time on the field, but we spent more time off the field really working with this group of players."
Buckingham said his players need to be more focused on themselves, while being aware of the danger their opponents can pose.
"We've watched a lot of footage not just of FC Goa but of the league. We've probably got about 80% of the time we have spent focusing on us, and how we go about what we want to do, whilst also making sure that we are prepared as best as we can be for what we expect from Goa."
FC Goa head coach Juan Ferando said he would expect Mumbai City FC to adopt a similar playing style as the previous season even though they have a new head coach at their helm.
"I'm thinking they are working more or less in the same style. Now, the team except Hugo Boumous, Adam le Fondre, they are the same squad. There is Apuia to help in the midfield. Yes, there is a bit of change, with the new coach coming in. But, tomorrow, their game will more or less be the same."
Asked how FC Goa's participation in the AFC Champions League last season has helped the Indian players in particular, Ferando said, "It was an amazing experience. Everybody, the captain and the young players know this experience was very important."
"We know at this moment, if we work like a team, our expectations are so high, we can improve."