IANS

ISL: Mumbai aim for record run as Chennaiyin eye miracle (Preview)

Mumbai, Dec 5 (IANS) Mumbai City FC will look to continue with their winning ways as they take on a beleaguered Chennaiyin FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) game at the Mumbai Football Arena here on Thursday.

The Islanders are on a five-match unbeaten run, winning four games. If they manage to avoid defeat against Chennaiyin, it will be their best unbeaten run in the history of the league.

Much of that credit has to go to their mean defence, which has leaked in a mere two goals since conceding five against FC Goa.

Mumbai seemed to have turned their season around after the thumping in Goa and since then, have looked a different outfit altogether, especially with their foreign players stepping up to the plate.

“We have changed a lot of things compared to last season. We did not have a lot of time at the beginning of the season. We needed time to adjust. Now we have no excuses and we need to keep working and fighting for the three points,” said Mumbai coach Jorge Costa.

Paulo Machado continues to be the chief orchestrator for Costa’s side in midfield and Arnold Issoko’s direct running on the right flank has also caused a lot of trouble to the opposition defences.

Modou Sougou hasn’t been on the score-sheet since their 1-0 win in Chennai and Thursday’s game is an opportunity for him to increase his tally against Chennaiyin FC’s disjointed defence which has shipped in 19 goals.

Chennaiyin FC coach John Gregory was also appreciative of their opponents. “I think they have a well-balanced team. I like Arnold, it’s very hard to shake him off the ball. (Matias) Mirabaje is great too but I think he’s been injured frequently. I also like the captain (Lucian Goian) but I think the strength of Mumbai lies in their teamwork. They don’t have any weak areas as such and are well-balanced,” said Gregory.

Chennaiyin FC have had a season to forget so far having managed just five points from their opening 10 games. They have eight matches to go and in coach Gregory’s words, they need a ‘miracle’ to make it into the top four.

“We’re a long way off from the play-offs and I think we need to win all the remaining eight games to even stand a chance of getting anywhere near the play-offs. But football being football, nothing is impossible. We need to win some points for our pride as I think we have performed nowhere to our standards this season,” expressed the Englishman.

The Marina Machans, however, wouldn’t want to throw in the towel as they want to prove a point or two. The players are certainly under pressure as the big names have failed to live up to the billing.

Jeje Lalpekhlua has endured his worst season in the ISL with no goals to show for his efforts. Jerry Lalrinzuala too has looked shaky at the back and hasn’t had the same impact when going forward.

Mohammed Rafi, the experienced striker, could possibly get a chance to start as Gregory would look to chop and change in order to arrest their slide.

–IANS
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