Soibam Ekendra Singh has no illusions about Mumbai FC’s ability to turn the things around, but after receiving a 1-3 bashing from Mohun Bagan in the last round, the Sporting Clube de Goa coach is hoping to strike well when the iron is hot.
“We have been practicing on many grounds and have fairly good understanding of the situation. This Balewadi Stadium ground is good and I hope our team will give a good performance,” said Ekendra Singh after the Goan team finished their training session here in the morning ahead of their Round V encounter against Mumbai FC.
Sporting is at No 11 position with 4 points from a win and a draw, while Mumbai FC is languishing at the bottom of the heap after four straight losses. With Mumbai yet to open its account, it remains to be seen how the youngest coach of I-League Khalid Jamil presents his team on the morrow.
Jamil is an outspoken coach and rightly so given that his players have fell short on all accounts since the season began a month ago. Foreign strikers, Nigerian ND Opara and Ghanaian Yusif Yakubu have been at it, but finishing is something that is irritating the team.
In the last two matches, Mumbai started with Abhishek Yadav but he has fallen short on the expectations, while Gabriel Fernandes, who went in as a substitute in the second half against Salgaocar SC, was more innovative and actually was in a position to score on at least three occasions.
In the last four I-League encounters, Mumbai FC and Sporting Clube have one once each and drawn two matches, but the Goan club’s 5-0 thrashing of Mumbai outfit early in January at home in the last season, still remains vivid in memory. Several players who were part of that team would like to forget that battering and move on to answer immediate worries that besiege the team.
In the goal, K Sharath hasn’t been impressive, but then the defenders are as porous as the opposition would like to have. No doubt Evans Quao will be back after sitting out for two matches after he picked up red card against Churchill Brothers, but he will need support from William Colaco and Peter Costa, though Jamil would like to have final say in the selection of defending wall.
Ekendra on the other hand is optimistic about his team’s chances given that they arrived here early to get used to the turf that is being used as home ground by three teams—Air India, Mumbai FC and Pune FC.
“All opponents are good opponents, but I think we deserve to win tomorrow’s match. We will get them,” said Ekendra, who is hoping that his foreign players will finally fire on Friday.
“Our Nigerian strike Anorue Obiora has done anything much so far, but this time we are ready to fire as we have tried putting in changes in the system,” said Ekendra.
Another positive vibe that Ekendra is hoping is that they have done pretty well in holding East Bengal to a goalless draw and then beat Shillong Lajong FC in an away tie.