It has been quite a hectic start for Mumbai City FC this season, as they have been on the road for three of their first four games. The Indian Super League Shield Winners of 2022-23, however, are back to the comforts of home and will host Kerala Blasters in their first game at the Mumbai Football Arena this season.
Similarly, Kerala Blasters are undefeated so far, with two wins in as many games, having defeated Bengaluru FC 2-1 in the season opener, followed by a 1-0 win against Jamshedpur FC.
Ahead of what is expected to be an exciting contest, Head Coach Des Buckingham was joined by forward Vikram Partap Singh in the pre-match press conference.
“We have had a good start in our ISL campaign this season. Two tough away games against NorthEast United FC and Odisha FC, and we have come back with four points out of six. So, we are very much looking forward to getting back out at the Mumbai Football Arena and playing back in front of our own fans,” Des said.
The coach noted that the team was well aware of how important it is to maintain momentum. “We are in the very early part of our season. And we also know how important the ISL is, and we need to make sure we can continue the momentum through the season,” he said.
While Des Buckingham and his boys are putting in the hard yards at the training sessions, the fans are eagerly awaiting matchday. And understandably, the team themselves are quite upbeat, too.
“We have got some wonderful memories of being in front of our fans, and we are very much looking forward to kickstarting our season from home. I think anyone who's been to the Mumbai Football Arena knows our crowd is our 12th man. We don't have the biggest fan base, we know that, but anyone that is fortunate enough to come to the ground and experience the atmosphere that the fans create, whether it's 7000 or 8000 people, it's a very different experience. The fans are much closer to the field because we don't have the running track on such a ground. And it brings the fans closer to the players because of that. And that, for me, creates a very different and special atmosphere. Yes, the crowd play a very important part, and we are very much again looking forward to playing in front of them,” he added.
Vikram Partap Singh also expressed his thoughts on finally playing in front of the home fans. Vikram said, “It's always special playing in front of our home crowd because every time, whether we score or we are down, they cheer us up, their support lifts us up, and it feels good to see them cheering for us. It always feels good, and everyone feels motivated by that.”
The ISL is in its tenth season, and Mumbai City FC were one of the founding clubs of the tournament, which has helped elevate the profile of the sport. Buckingham, who has significant experience in a similar sort of environment in Australia, was appreciative of the last decade of Indian football.
“The growth of this league in 10 years is huge. The football that's now on show in the 10th season compared to maybe what was on show three or four years ago. And the more the league develops, you get better teams, you get more opportunities to develop, and the football gets better because of that,” he signed off.
Where To Watch
The game will kick off at 8:00 PM IST on the 8th of October 2023 and will be broadcast on Sports 18 and Jio TV. For our global fans, you follow all the action LIVE on our official Twitter account - @MumbaiCityFC.