Mumbai, Odisha lock horns in battle for top-four berth
Fatorda (Goa), February 12, 2022
A win tomorrow will take either team back into the top four of the Indian Super League (ISL).
Reigning champions Mumbai City FC will hope they can continue the momentum and storm back into the top four when they take on fellow aspirants Odisha FC at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda on Sunday.
Mumbai got back to winning ways with a 1-0 win over Chennaiyin FC to snap their seven-game winless run. They are in sixth position with 22 points from 14 games and another victory on Sunday could hurtle them back into the mix with the added advantage of having more games in hand than the likes of Hyderabad FC and Bengaluru FC.
In Odisha, Mumbai will face an opponent brimming with confidence after their win against SC East Bengal. They are seventh in the table having 21 points from 15 outings and a win for them too will bring them back in the top four.
"Every game is very different. When you look at the table, yes there is one point that separates us and Odisha but there is one point between us and the teams in second place and one at the top. So it's a very tight league and every game we play from now on is going to be important to us," Mumbai coach Des Buckingham said.
Mourtada Fall and Ahmed Jahouh extended their contracts for Mumbai in this period, and Buckingham was asked about team captain Fall and what he brings to the table.
"Fall brings a lot to this group. He brings in true leadership on and off the field. Nobody really sees that other than us. He is a true leader."
For the Islanders, Lallianzuala Chhangte has come good since joining their ranks and impressed against his former side Chennaiyin FC, bagging the Hero of the Match award. Chhangte injects pace to the Mumbai final third and with Bipin Singh on the other flank, the likes of Igor Angulo and Cassio Gabriel just behind Angulo, get the support they need from the flanks.
Mumbai have also been effective from crosses of late, scoring eight goals from floaters till now, the joint-most by a team this season.
Odisha’s defence will have to particularly be wary of the service from out wide from Bipin. Bipin's two assists have come from crosses and he also put in a cross that Pritam Kotal headed into his own net against ATK Mohun Bagan. Odisha have conceded a goal from a cross in two of their last three engagements.
"Both teams need three points if they want to be in the semi-finals. So for both teams, it's an important match. The schedule is also tight. We play a game in two days' time. We have five matches to go so we need to be focused and perform well match after match," Odisha head coach Kino Garcia said.
The last time the two sides met, Odisha beat Mumbai 4-2 in one of their best results this season.