Mumbai City FC is set to face Bengaluru FC in a highly-anticipated Semifinal of the Indian Super League (ISL). The Islanders will take on Bengaluru in the first leg of the semifinals at the Mumbai Football Arena on March 7, 2023 with the action kicking off at 7.30pm IST.

The Islanders won fourteen games and drew four in the league stage this season, and their only defeats in the ISL this season came in their last two games of the league phase. After the Islanders were crowned ISL League Shield Winners with a resounding 5-3 win against FC Goa away from home, their first defeat of the season came at the hands of their semi-final opponents Bengaluru FC in a game that ended 2-1 in favour of the Blues. Having beaten Simon Grayson's side in the reverse fixture in Mumbai, the Islanders will certainly look to draw inspiration from it and return to action after a two-week hiatus since last playing on February 19.

Bengaluru FC secured 34 points in 20 games in the league phase. The Bengaluru-based side ended the Islanders' 18-game unbeaten streak in the league after a 2-1 defeat at the Kanteerava. Bengaluru FC, since, have defeated FC Goa 3-1 and Kerala Blasters FC 1-0 in the Knockout to qualify for the semi-final against the Islanders and are currently on a 9 match winning streak after a remarkable mid-season turnaround.

Addressing the media ahead of tomorrow's first leg, Des Buckingham spoke about Mumbai City FC’s preparations for the two-legged tie against Bengaluru. “Obviously we know that the outcome of that 90 minutes could influence the second part, but there's no point in looking at the second part until the first part is done. So we'll approach this game in the same way we have all the others, for which we've had two weeks now to plan and prepare and rest and recover. Now we've got everybody in a really good space, so. We'll take each game as it comes, the same as we did in the league, but it's important that we just look at this game in isolation to start with.”

The prodigious Apuia Ralte accompanied Buckingham for the press conference, and he spoke about how much he has learned playing and competing alongside the likes of Jahouh and Stewart in midfield. He said, “It's a joy for me to play alongside these players, you know, everyone is a top player in our squad, and competing against them helps me a lot. It's a joy to train and play alongside them.”

Apuia, who has added goals to his game under Des Buckingham, has netted against Bengaluru in the Durand Cup Final and in the 4-0 win in Mumbai earlier this season but has reiterated that his personal accolades come second to the team's performance. He said, “I scored against Bengaluru and I hope this time I can contribute in any way the team needs me to. The most important thing is the win for the team. I cannot focus on myself. The most important thing is the team and it will always be the team for me.” 

Buckingham concluded the press conference by talking up the importance of the atmosphere at the Mumbai Football Arena and how it could play a vital role tomorrow. “I've said this all season. When you come to the Mumbai Football Arena, the fans are a lot closer to the pitch and the atmosphere that is created is very different from other grounds. Not to say it's better, but it's very special and I think anyone that's come to the ground, whether it's a home fan or an away fan will say the same. It does have a big impact on what the players feel on the field because we certainly do feel it from the dugouts. Fans are very important and it's so good to be able to play in front of them this season as opposed to what was last year when we were in the bubbles. So we're looking forward to a sold out Mumbai Football Arena, hopefully cheering us on against a very good BFC team and one we will be ready for. ”


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 or follow all the action LIVE on our official Twitter account - @MumbaiCityFC.