Preview: Mumbai FC vs Aizawl FC
Eight years ago, a young Khalid Jamil started his coaching journey in Mumbai FC with Cooperage Ground being his happy hunting ground. But, after being axed by Mumbai last season the former India international decided to continue his footballing journey elsewhere - Aizawl FC. Today, Mumbai FC will see a familiar face standing on the touchline, but this time it will not be for the club where it all started, but Aizawl FC.
The former Mumbai coach refuses to bad mouth Mumbaikars and said, "Mumbai is the place where it all started, this place is like a home to me. But, today as a professional coach I’ll try to come out with all three points for my team,"
Aizawl FC, under the guidance of Khalid Jamil now stand with seven points from a possible nine and will be in all good mood to face the Santosh Kashyap coached club. Mumbai FC even though started their journey with two wins from their first two matches they slipped against current champions Bengaluru FC in their last match but will hope to head back to their winning ways as they prepared to host the Northeastern team which will make the match an exciting encounter.
Travelling: Mumbai FC started the I-League campaign with a home match against DSK Shivajians, but have to pack their bags from their second match against Churchill Brothers and then to Bengaluru FC. The Maharashtra club went back to the city only on Friday which means there is no such fitness advantage for travelling as Aizawl FC, fresh from their two home matches win in a row also land in the state on Friday.
Morale of the Teams: Khalid Jamil has come in and made an immediate impact for the People's club, with two wins and one draw representing a very strong start to the campaign. The Kuwait-born coach hinted his team great run of form is only because of their togetherness, work ethics and the never-say-die attitude of his players.
Mumbai FC coach Santosh Kashyap before the league started said, "We will try to finish among the top three," and that has been seen among his players in their first two matches but not against their 3-0 loss to Bengaluru, where at least two goals can be prevented. If the former Mohun Bagan coach wants to run after his words moral boost before the Aizawl FC match is much needed.
Preparations: Aizawl FC on Friday landed in Mumbai and had training on Cooperage Stadium, where the match is scheduled to play today evening and Khalid Jamil is all positive for the match. "I have been in this place for many years, and there must be no other coaches who might know this place better than me which will be an added advantage to us. Away from our home, we will play like it is our home," said the AFC gaffer.
Khalid Jamil says he has not been paying special attention to how his old side has developed under Kashyap. "They are a great team, and I know we must be serious about them. But, i have no special plan as we will just go out to take something out of this match," he said.
Santosh Kashyap, on the other hand, praised his predecessor and said his team is expecting a tough match from a great coach side while rubbing away the comparisons of his game style with Khalid Jamil as both coaches are known for their defensive tactic. "We both have our own style," he said.
Injuries/Suspensions: Santosh Kashyap will be without the service of his reliable defender Lalchhawnkima, who picked up a hamstring injury against Bengaluru FC in the last game. Meanwhile, Aizawl FC had great news in Kamo Stephane Bayi as the Ivorian striker who was not among the squad in their last match is fit enough to face Mumbai and both teams have no suspended players.
Predicted Starting XI:
Aizawl FC (4-2-3-1): Albino Gomes; Rinzuala Khiangte, Zotea Ralte, Kingsley, Ruatthara; Alfred (C), Al Amna; Albert, Jayesh Rane, Biaktea; Kamo
Mumbai FC (4-2-3-1) : Kattimani; Reagan, Pratik, Shallum Pires, Chinta Rao; Theobald, Hitesh Sharma; Steven Dias (C), Thoi Singh, Pratesh Shirodkar, Victorino Fernandes
Using Khalid’s past line-ups in their first three matches as a gauge, it would not be a surprise to see Kamo back in the starting eleven with Alfred dropping backward as a deep lying midfielder and BT-a drop to the bench. One of the hottest prospects in last season I-League Lalramchullova is back in full training following an injury and is among the travelling squad. But, it might be too earlier for the defender to start the game
Mumbai FC announced their first foreign signing in the experience Densill Theobald and Robson Chaves Santana just after their matches with Bengaluru. The former Trinidad & Tobago international Theobald is expected to start his first match with Brazilian forward Robson Santana on the bench while Chandrashekha Rao may start the game for the injured Kim Kima
Both teams might want to win but with both coaches expected to play a defensive game, the match is expected to end with a goalless draw.