The Islanders have had a fantastic season under the guidance of their head coach, Des Buckingham. They finished the league stage with a record-breaking 46 points and have been consistent throughout the season, showcasing their attacking prowess with a all-time Hero ISL record of 54 goals.
On the other hand, Churchill Brothers FC have also had a promising season last year, finishing 6th in the I-League. They secured their Super Cup berth following an impressive 6-0 victory against Real Kashmir.
Ahead of the tournament opener for both teams, head coach Des Buckingham in the pre-match press conference shared his thoughts on the preparation ahead of the game, “We're preparing this team the same way that we have prepared for every ISL game and the Champions League qualifier game that we've had before. We know Churchill Brothers have had some change, certainly since the league season finished for them. They've obviously played that qualifying game, which we were able to watch and get a feel for what they may do against us. But as always, we'll be as prepared as we think we can be for that game, for what they may throw our way. But the same is as the rest of the season - it's going to be making sure that we're as prepared as we can be in terms of having control of what we have to offer, which is to continue playing a very attacking and exciting brand of football and giving these players a real good platform to go and showcase what they're capable of doing, whether it be against a very strong I league team or against the two ISL teams which will follow."
The Islanders will travel to the Hero Super Cup with an all-Indian squad, a move that Des Buckingham believes will go a long way in the development of Mumbai City's domestic contingent. “It will be different for us because the foreign players do make a difference. But I've spoken about trying to build this club, certainly in the last two years, by having and developing Indian players and we want the best for the players here. The team that we have, we still have the likes of Phurba in goal. We still have Vignesh and Mandar at left back. We have Rahul Bheke and Mehtab Singh in defence. We have the likes of Vinit, Rowllin and Apuia in midfield. We still have Chhangte, Bipin and Vikram and then you add in the likes of young Ayush and a couple of others in there with Hardik and Sanjiv Stalin. All these players were big impact players for us all season, so I do think we have a great squad.”
On the tremendous success that the Islanders have had throughout their season, the Englishman said, “This is the fourth country I am coaching in and I've coached in many different leagues, but the important thing for me is that as long as everyone's clear on what it is we're all trying to do and everyone understands how they fit in what we want to do and how they can contribute, and then how we can try and be as supportive as we can and create a positive environment that allows those players to go out and really try and showcase what they can. This approach has shown some real good results and we certainly will try to retain it.”
Des Buckingham further stated that the Super Cup is not only a great breeding ground for Indian talent, but will also serve as great preparation ahead of the AFC Champions League, especially for our domestic players. “It gives players opportunities to show what they can do because you can train as much as you want, but the opportunity to compete and compete against your peers in any competition, whether it's in India or outside, that's really where you're tested and that's the one thing I'm really looking forward to seeing. As far as the Super Cup goes, more opportunities are always good for a team to understand themselves, and test their depth and performance in differing circumstances."
Where To Watch
The game will kick off at 5:00 pm IST and will be broadcast live on the Sony Sports Network and streamed on FanCode for all viewers in India. For our global fans, follow all the action LIVE on our official Twitter account - @MumbaiCityFC.