Following their 5-3 victory against FC Goa at the Fatorda Stadium that saw the Islanders seal the 2022/23 ISL League Winners' Shield, Mumbai City FC remain on the road for a second consecutive away game to face Bengaluru FC. The newly crowned league champions will look to continue their stellar run against an in-form Bengaluru FC, who currently sit 5th in the table and are looking to consolidate their spot in the playoffs. The Islanders will take on Bengaluru FC at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on the 15th of February 2023 at 7.30pm IST.
The Islanders have already been crowned league champions with two games to go - the quickest the league title has ever been sealed. Des Buckingham's side have won fourteen games - another league record - and drawn four this season, they are yet to lose a game so far this season. They also lead the league with the most goals (53) and have third best defence in the league having conceded only 18 goals. In what was billed as a title-defining clash, the Islanders drew 1-1 against Hyderabad FC at home in a physically gruelling match. The Islanders then made the way to Goa, knowing that a win will ensure a second League Winners' Shield for the club in three years. After going a goal down early, the Islanders turned up the heat and ran riot at the Fatorda in a title-winning 5-3 win.
Bengaluru FC have secured 28 points in 18 games. After a rocky start to the league season for Simon Grayson's side, the Blues have found their groove and are currently on a hot streak of six consecutive wins. In their solid run, BFC have dispatched sides with gritty performances and most notably have grabbed wins against ATK Mohun Bagan (2-1) and Kerala Blasters (1-0).
Des Buckingham in the pre match press conference spoke about Mumbai City FC’s journey as a club this season and how much winning the League Shield means to him personally. “I think if you go on this journey, I've had so many special memories personally, and this certainly ranks up there not because of a shield and not because of a trophy but in terms of what we've been able to do and how we've been able to do it.”
He went on to add about how the players have bought into his coaching philosophy and what lies ahead. “We've got a way that we want to work and we believe in it. The players I think now trust it and trust it well, they know it and for them to be able to perform it the way they have over 18 games and get us the success that it often brings, it's a wonderful achievement for everyone associated with the club. But again, I said afterwards, we're not done. We still have two very important games in the league that we want to finish and finish strongly. We've refocused on what we will need to do against Bengaluru FC and then we'll turn our attention to our home game where hopefully we can all celebrate together afterwards after the game against East Bengal, because obviously we haven't been able to really do that (in Goa). But in terms of achievement, I think it's a wonderful achievement for the club. It shows what can be done.”
The electric Bipin Singh accompanied Buckingham for the conference, and he spoke about how the coach has helped improve this season and what it means to him as a player to win the shield. “This is my 5th year in Mumbai City FC, it feels like home now. I always dreamt of winning trophies with this Club and this second time I have been able to achieve that here. This league shield win is slightly different for me because the Coach has helped me improve with and without the ball. He has given me a lot of confidence and his clear and specific instructions have helped me improve my game drastically. This is our second season with him so each player now understands how he wants us to play. Last year we were still learning how he wants us to play but now we can comfortably understand his game plan and feel like we are ready to execute it on the field. ”
Coach Buckingham concluded the press conference by talking about the squad’s mentality, “I said at the start of the season that we are not a team of individuals, we have to be a team and a squad will win you leagues. If you have good people, if you sit with them, you're honest with them and you explain what you do and why you do it, it makes a massive difference. We've certainly done that as much as we possibly can, whether it's being those that start or don't start or those that maybe come on to impact the game and finish our game strong off the bench everyone has been focused. That's been the key.”
Where To Watch
The game will kick off at 7:30 pm IST and will be broadcast live on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar, and Jio TV for all viewers in India. For our global fans, you can download the OneFootball app, find your broadcaster at indiansuperleague.com/