The Islanders will make their final bow in the 2022 AFC Champions League when they return to action against Air Force Club of Iraq tonight at the King Fahd International Stadium. Des Buckingham’s side will face off against the defending Iraqi champions in a late night kick off at 11:15pm AST (1:45am IST).
Last Time Out
Valuable lessons were learnt when Mumbai City stepped out onto the pitch for the first time at the AFC Champions League on April 8, suffering a 3-0 defeat to Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab. Those lessons stayed. Just three days later, the Islanders would go on to do something no Indian club had ever done before – win a game in the AFC Champions League Group Stage.
The Islanders went toe to toe with a supremely competitive Air Force Club when the two sides met on April 11. Des Buckingham’s side had visibly built on the attacking intent they showed in their Group B opener as Mumbai City started off strongly. Both sides could have had the ball in the back of the net on multiple occasions as the half time whistle went with the deadlock yet to be broken. Close to the hour mark, the Iraqi side capitalized on a defensive mix up by the Islanders allowing Hammadi Ahmad to put his side in the lead. Just over ten minutes later, Diego Maurício took matters into his own hands but his marauding run was hacked down inside the box. The Brazilian earned and scored the penalty, scoring Mumbai City’s first ever goal in Asia’s premier club competition and bringing back his side on level terms.
The comeback was complete just 5 minutes later. Ahmed Jahouh’s delightful corner, coupled with Rahul Bheke’s fine movement inside the box allowed the Mumbai lad to nod his hometown team into a 2-1 lead. The final 15 minutes saw the Air Force Club side throw the kitchen sink at the Islanders but to no effect. Mumbai City ran out winners, scripting a piece of Indian footballing history that will be remembered for years to come.
Who Said What
Des Buckingham: I think when I speak for people sending messages I have had back from home, in India, very proud of what this group has gone on to achieve. But we are not finished, we want to make sure we finish off this journey and this historical moment for our club and for Indian football as well as we can. And it's important we do that and approach that in the right way.
Rahul Bheke: It was a disappointing result, the last game. But we'll try to learn from that game and make sure we do well in our next game which is our last game here. The team has done really well and it's a huge learning experience for each and every player.
Where To Watch
The game will kick off at 11:15 PM AST (23rd April, 1:45 AM IST) and will be broadcast on the Star Sports 3, Disney+ Hotstar, and Jio TV for all viewers in India. For our global fans, you can find your local broadcaster at here or follow all the action LIVE on our official Twitter account - @MumbaiCityFC.