Mumbai City bolstered ahead of Pune ISL clash


Mumbai: Mumbai City FC will be bolstered by the arrival of four Bengaluru FC footballers ahead of their Indian Super League (ISL) match against FC Pune City here on Thursday.

The four footballers — captain Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, Amrinder Singh and Lalchhuanmawia Fanai — were away fulfilling their commitments for I-League champions Bengaluru FC who recently lost 0-1 in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on November 5.

Mumbai coach Alexandre Guimaraes admitted that the presence of the players is a “blessing” for the team.

“We are glad to have them with us. That makes the group much bigger and gives me resources and possibilities to which players to start. At the end of the tournament, this is like a blessing for us,” the Costa Rican coach said on Wednesday in an ISL release.

The quartet have already trained although the coach didn’t assure they will be named in the first team, remaining noncommittal, only saying they are “hungry to be in the squad and be part of this Mumbai City season”.

But Guimaraes could be tempted to hand Chhetri a place in the starting eleven after rich form in the AFC Cup. Chhetri was also the leading goal scorer for Mumbai City last season and was involved in half of Mumbai City FC’s 16 goals scored last year.

“We are prepared to play the right game and try to win. The other team has changed a little bit, their approach, and know they cannot lose. That is the attraction that we have,” he added.

Mumbai City FC are leading the table with 15 points from nine matches but Guimaraes said his team still has work to do before reaching their first target of qualifying for the semi-finals.

“We cannot fall into this trap that we are almost there. We have a good chance and we have to keep going.”

Mumbai City won their first leg match against away at Pune.

But the visitors will be confident after scripting a good win against former champions Atletico de Kolkata (ATK). Pune are seventh with nine points and will jump to the top four if they manage a win.

“After the last match, this group is good. The players are ready. After the match against ATK, the group is fantastic. Mumbai beat us in Pune. We will try to beat them tomorrow. We know it’s difficult but we will try,” Pune coach Antonio Habas said.

Pune haven’t lost an away match this season but are yet to score a goal in Mumbai, a concern for Habas.

Pune have conceded in every of their eight matches so far, an area their Spanish coach will be looking to fix.


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