The Islanders endured a tough outing last night at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar facing a 2-0 humbling at the hands of a resurgent Odisha FC.
After being resigned to the stands due to suspension, it was Jorge Costa's trusted deputy Marco Leite who led out the Islanders, hoping to maintain their unbeaten run away from home.
A lacklustre performance ensued in the 90 minutes that followed, one which Leite didn't shy away from labeling as the worst of the season.
"One thing we're sure about is that it wasn't a good game for us. Probably, it was our worst game this season so far. It's true that in the first half we created some chances but Odisha created some chances too. But that has been our story for a lot of games, and especially the ones we've lost. Every game we create chances but we cannot score," said Leite.
After a cagey but evenly balanced first half, both sides went into the break without having a goal to show for their exploits. The hosts restarted the game on a flying note, taking less than two minutes to put the ball in the back of the net.
When asked about the stark difference in the performance on either side of the break, the Portuguese added, "The things changed a bit in the second half. The pitch didn't help either but it's not an excuse because both teams played on the same pitch. But we become slow and predictable in the second half. We weren't able to maintain the speed, the tempo of the game. And whenever we created some chances, we should have scored those."
"If we don't score in a game, we're closer to losing than we are to getting a positive result and it's exactly what happened tonight."
With only six games to go, last night's lost - a second on the trot - meant the Islanders surrendered their spot in the top four, sitting two points adrift in fifth place. Despite the setback, Leite painted a picture of confidence and was certain his side will continue to push until the end.
"It was a game we were optimistic about and wanted to bring all 3 points back to Mumbai but we couldn't do it. We have six more games to go and we'll continue fighting for a spot in the top four."
"We will continue to work like we have so far in this season. The team works very hard and trains well every day and that's something we can't say anything to the players about. There are times when we play well but we don't score and then there times when we play bad like we did tonight. We tried to score. We couldn't. They got two goals. They win the game. Congratulations to Odisha," exclaimed the Islanders' assistant coach.
Mumbai City return to base and will be back in action in five days' time at the Mumbai Football Arena against a formidable Bengaluru FC side - a game the Islanders' cannot afford to drop points in to maintain course for the playoffs.
"Of course we are sad about this result. The only thing we can do now is continue to fight, continue to train and dedicate all our efforts to be in the top four at the end of the league. That's the only thing we can do and I'm sure that we will do it," signed off Leite.