The only positive from Sunday’s draw against Pune FC was the solitary point that Mumbai FC earned, which kept the Essel Group-promoted side just a notch above the relegation zone, otherwise the players failed to add any quality to their campaign that is fast reaching the midway stage.
A couple of yellow cards including one after the final whistle, showed that Mumbai FC is on tenterhooks after a series of bad results, something they would like to curtail when they meet Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore, in the Round XI match in the I-league football championship at the Balewadi Sports Complex on Thursday.
No doubt full points from Thursday’s match against the bottom-placed team would be least Coach Khalid Jamil would expect, but they would do well not to let HAL off the hook even as the Bangalore team’s record this season has not been noteworthy.
Mumbai FC mid-fielders S Kuttymani and Noel Wilson were not up to the mark against Pune FC while striker Abhishek Yadav and Gbeneme Friday were far from best. Nigerian Friday, who has so far scored just two goals this season was a late riser, but when he actually began to move with the ball, he was abysmally out of tune with the mid-fielders and was caught off-side quite a few times.
Dhanachandra Leihaorungbam was the lone saviour for Mumbai, holding off Pune FC strikers Mandjou Keita and Douhou Pierre on several occasions and was rightly adjudged Man-of-the-match. Much will depend on his ability to defuse the attacks from both wings.
HAL on the other hand lost to Salgaocar SC by solitary goal on Sunday. They haven’t been able to win single match so far this season, but surely the team is very good in defence and this Balewadi ground has been happy hunting ground for the Bangalore team, notwithstanding the loss against Pune FC when HAL played here last.
HAL did put up a stiff resistance against Salgaocar, which was finally broken in the 65th minute by Ryuji Sueoka. But otherwise, HAL stood tall, even if they failed to rally and get themselves an equalizer. The Bangalore team clearly lacked the cutting edge and even though reinforcements were brought in, they could not find the much-needed gaps. The two teams will be playing for the first time this season and given the position they are in, full points for either of the team will do a world of good as the I-League wears on.