There are two sides to Amey Ranawade. When he’s not goofing around in the PlayStation room or at the ping pong table in our bio-secure bubble at the ITC Grand Goa, the young full-back from Navi Mumbai cuts a steadfast figure especially when it comes to his football. Sat on his favorite bean bag in the team lounge, sipping on his chamomile tea, we caught up with the birthday boy on the eve of the biggest game of the season. We preview the second leg of the Islanders’ semifinal against FC Goa with our very own Mumbaikar Amey Ranawade.
With the semifinal tie finely poised with two goals apiece after the first leg, Mumbai City will step out on the pitch at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Monday, March 8, knowing that a win will secure a spot in the ISL Finals for the first time in the Club’s history. It won’t be easy. But the Islanders have proven their mettle this season and one man who knows a thing or two about showing a fight is Amey.
The Islanders played out a thrilling 2-2 draw on Friday with the Gaurs in the first leg at the Fatorda. Amey Ranawade was forced to sit out of the fixture after collecting his fourth yellow card of the season against ATK Mohun Bagan in the final league game. “It was tough sitting out in such an important game. It wasn’t an easy game by any means and the team did extremely well to fight back twice,” said Amey.
“FC Goa are a strong and a determined unit. They play a similar style of football to ours. They like to keep the ball, and so do we but there’s only one ball on the pitch. The second leg is going to be a monumental game,” exclaimed Amey
“There is no doubt this is the most important game of the season for us. It’s going to come down to wants it more. We have a lot of big characters in our team and it is our mentality that has brought us where we are. But we need to prove our worth out there on the pitch. We’re ready.”
Our semifinal opponents, FC Goa, are a club Amey is fairly familiar with. The 23-year-old full-back spent two stints with the Gaurs, during the 2017-18 season and then in the 2019-20 campaign. Both of Amey’s stints in Goa came under the Islanders’ current head coach Sergio Lobera.
“Sergio Lobera has played a huge role, not only in my career, but in our success this season. I don’t need to stress on what an incredible coach he is – his numbers and his achievements speak for themselves,” remarked Amey about the Spaniard.
“Playing under Sergio Lobera has taught me a lot of things, both on and off the pitch. He has been instrumental in how we’ve played this season. It wasn’t easy with 17 new players, coming into a new setup, with a short pre-season and adapting to new surroundings but the coach has had our backs since day 1. He’s given us the confidence to back ourselves during the toughest times and his message before tomorrow has remained the same – to go out and express ourselves confidently,” added Amey.
Between the two stints at FC Goa, Amey plied his trade with Mohun Bagan in the I League and even turned out for I League 2nd Division side Bengaluru United after his second spell with the Gaurs. After making it to the final rounds of the I League 2nd Division, Bengaluru United failed to make the cut and qualify to the I League.
It was a tough period for Amey, and he had to play the waiting game before he reunited with Lobera at his hometown club, Mumbai City. “It was difficult time for me, but I never lost hope. I kept my head down and pushed myself. That is one of the things you learn as a Mumbaikar – to hustle”, remarked Amey.
“I was ecstatic when I had the opportunity to play for my home club. But I could not have imagined my debut season in Mumbai City going the way it did. It’s a dream come true for me. But the fight isn’t over and all of us know it. People talk about the spirit of Mumbai, but it’s real and this group embodies it perfectly. We’ve fought together for each other in this difficult season and we will fight for the city and our fans one more time on Monday,” quipped Amey as he picked up his mask, his mug of tea and took his leave to gear up for training.
A spot in the finals is at stake and as Amey rightly said, it’s time to fight for Mumbai.
Amey Ranawade will return from suspension for the second leg of the semifinal.
Ivan Gonzalez and Alberto Noguera return to the fold after serving their suspensions. Seriton Fernandes and Princeton Rebello will miss the action due to injuries.
Who Said What
Sergio Lobera: The attitude of my players during the last game, the sacrifices the team made, and the hard work they put in was 100%. We only need to improve in some areas.
Amrinder Singh: It was important to see how we fought back after conceding twice while staying loyal to our style of football. We need to focus on tomorrow, it is going to be the biggest game of the season for both teams.
Where To Watch It
The game will kick off at 7.30pm IST and will be broadcast on the Star Sports Network, Disney+ Hotstar and Jio TV for all viewers in India. For our global fans, you can find your local broadcaster here or follow all the action LIVE on our official Twitter account - @MumbaiCityFC.
5 Mar (SF 1 Leg 1): FC Goa 2-2 Mumbai City (Angulo 20’P, Gama 59’; Hugo 38’, Fall 61’)
6 Mar (SF 2 Leg 1): NorthEast United 1-1 ATK Mohun Bagan (Sylla 90’; Williams 34’)
Fixtures coming up:
8 Mar (SF 1 Leg 2): Mumbai City vs FC Goa (GMC Bambolim, 7.30pm)
9 Mar (SF 2 Leg 2): ATK Mohun Bagan vs NorthEast United (Fatorda, 7.30pm)