Training boots. Gym sessions. Team meetings. Then comes the first game, and there certainly was an air of excitement roughly two months ago when the league fixtures were announced. The Islanders kick off the 2017-18 Hero ISL away to Bengaluru FC on Sunday, November 19 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium.
In what has been billed as a mouth-watering clash by the purists, Alexandre Guimaraes and the boys will look to continue last season's table-topping form and open their account with a win against Albert Roca's ISL newcomers.
Where to watch it:
The game will kick off at 8pm IST and will be broadcast on the Star Sports Network and Hotstar for all viewers in India. For our global fans, you can find your broadcaster here
. You can also follow live action on our official Twitter account - @MumbaiCityFC
The Islanders' pre-season was billed as 'a success' by head coach Guimaraes with the team notching up 4 wins, 2 draws and a solitary loss in the 34-day pre-season sojourn in Spain.
Bengaluru FC also trained in Spain where they didn't muster a win in three friendlies. They had an early start to the season due to their participation in the AFC Cup where they crashed out in the Inter-zonal finals against FC Istiklol of Tajikistan. BFC, as they're popularly known as, also played as many as eight friendlies since, winning five games, drawing two and losing one.
This will be the first ever encounter between Mumbai City FC and Bengaluru FC. However, a few names on both team sheets will be in some sort of familiar territory when the sides meet on Sunday.
The Islanders' star custodian Amrinder Singh, who was on loan from Bengaluru FC last season, will be facing his former side for the first time after completing a permanent move to Mumbai. Amrinder turned out for BFC for two seasons winning an I League and a Federation Cup. The ISL Golden Glove winner from 2016-17 will be itching to set the record straight against his old teammates.
The scenes will be fairly similar on the other side of the pitch as India and BFC captain Sunil Chhetri will face The Islanders after featuring on our teamsheets for two seasons of the ISL. Chhetri is the leading scorer for the club after racking up 7 goals in the 2015-16 season he also led the side in that season. Fortunes weren't the same in the subsequent year as the 33 year old striker could not find the net after being available for only 7 appearances in the 2016-17 ISL.
Along with Chhetri, young striker Udanta Singh will also be in the mix. Udanta was on loan at Mumbai City last season and had one appearance in our final league game of the season.
Did you know? Mumbai City FC head coach Alexandre Guimaraes once coached Bengaluru FC midfielder Erik Paartalu during their time at Tianjin TEDA in the Chinese Super League.
The 2017-18 Hero Indian Super League kicked off on Friday, 17 November with the opening game played in Kochi between Kerala Blasters and ATK. The sides played out a goalless draw. ATK hit the post on one occasion through Zequinha and came close to scoring often. Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov made his debut for Kerala Blasters alongside Iain Hume who returns to Kerala after two seasons at ATK.
The other fixtures of the weekend are:
Saturday, November 18
NorthEast United FC vs Jamshedpur FC (Guwahati, 8pm)
Sunday, November 19
Chennaiyin FC vs FC Goa (Chennai, 5.30pm)