A second league game in under a week is upon the Islanders as Mumbai City return to the Arena for midweek action. Des Buckingham’s side will take on newly-promoted Punjab FC on Thursday, November 2 with action kicking off at 8pm.
The Islanders returned to the Mumbai Football Arena last weekend to take on Hyderabad FC but the night would not go as planned for Des Buckingham and his team. Mumbai City were reduced to 10 men as early as in the 7th minute after Phurba Lachenpa was sent off for his challenge on Joe Knowles outside the penalty area. Despite the numerical disadvantage, 10-man Mumbai City took the challenge to the Nizams and took the lead after a well worked move was turned into his own goal by Manoj Mohammad. However, Hyderabad FC put the dampers on what would have been an emphatic result. Joe Knowles’ attempt took a wayward deflection off Tiri and creeped in past Nawaz to split a point between the two sides.
Punjab FC, the first-ever club to achieve promotion to the Indian Super League, have had a rocky start to their maiden ISL campaign. The Shers endured tough losses to Mohun Bagan Super Giant and FC Goa in their opening two games but showed tremendous resolve to register draws against NorthEast United and Jamshedpur FC. Staikos Vergetis’ side, however, could not build on the momentum as they endured a 5-1 loss against Chennaiyin FC.
The Islanders’ head coach Des Buckingham was pleased to see Punjab FC join the ISL as its newest entrants and shared his thoughts as he said, “Whenever a league expands, it is great for many reasons. Firstly, it gives us more games. And for teams like Punjab it brings professional football to that region which is a wonderful thing for the sport to grow. It allows many young players to not just aspire to play in the ISL but also give them an opportunity of having the ISL at their doorsteps.”
Buckingham was in attendance at Punjab’s previous outing in Chennai and asserted that despite their form, the Shers will be a tough opposition to play against. “Punjab are here for the first time and we went to watch them. We had flown to Chennai to see their game on the day after our last game against Hyderabad to prepare our team in the best possible way. They have got some good players. They have a very clear manner in which they want to play and we need to be ready for that,” said the English tactician.
Mehtab Singh, who joined Buckingham at the pre-match press conference, expressed his delight in seeing Punjab’s first ISL club as he said, “It feels very good to know that a team from our part of the country has risen up the ranks to reach the ISL. I remember in my initial days of playing football in Punjab, we always had that lingering thought of hoping to have a team from our state get into the bigger levels in our country. With that dream being realized, it is an exciting moment in time.”
When asked about his side’s preparations, Mehtab was wary of the threat Punjab FC may pose but took confidence in the Islanders’ resolute performance in the last league game. “We have followed Punjab FC’s development in the league so far and I am sure they will be planning to put their best foot forward in tomorrow’s match, which will also be our team’s goal. Even in our last game, we performed well with one man down with almost the perfect result but we are looking forward to showcase continued passages of good performances. And of course, there is that added motivation to do well against our home support who constantly provide us with an electrifying atmosphere,” said Mehtab.
The Islanders will miss the services of Yoëll van Nieff who continues to serve his 3-match suspension. Phurba Lachenpa will also miss tomorrow’s action after his red card against Hyderabad FC. Rostyn Griffiths will be available for selection once again after his one match ban.
Where To Watch
The game will kick off at 8:00 PM IST tomorrow, 2nd of November 2023 and will be broadcasted on Sports 18 and Jio Cinema. For our global fans, you can find your broadcaster at www.indiansuperleague.com/broadcasters or follow all the action LIVE on our official Twitter account - @MumbaiCityFC.