Sergio Lobera’s side revived their confidence ahead of facing ATK Mohun Bagan in their final match of the league stage on Sunday…
Mumbai City were experiencing a sudden drop in form since facing East Bengal on 22 January. Although they had won the tie, they were dominated by the Red and Golds in the second half of the game and from then things started to go south for the Islanders.
After the East Bengal tie, Sergio Lobera won just one match in their next six outings, drew twice and lost three matches. From getting 25 points in the first phase and being in pose position to get the AFC Champions League (ACL) slot by topping the league stage, Mumbai were slowly drifting away from their goal.
Just went it seemed that ATK Mohun Bagan would have it easy at the business end of the season, Mumbai City came back with a bang as they registered a thumping 6-1 win over rock-bottom Odisha FC on Wednesday.
There could not have been a better opposition for Mumbai City to get back their form than Odisha who have struggled to find form throughout the season and are yet attain double-digit points after 19 matches. They made the best out of the chance they got and regained their much-needed confidence ahead of battling it out with the league leaders on Sunday for the ACL slot.
Lobera had termed the Jamshedpur encounter as the team’s worst performance this season where they lost 2-0. But after the Odisha tie, the Spanish coach was elated. There were all the reasons for the Spaniard to be happy as his team stuck to his philosophy of playing possession-based football and dominated proceedings throughout the game.
Mumbai enjoyed 74 per cent ball possession and played 807 passes compared to Odisha’s 194. They also attempted 18 shots out of which 12 were on target. Goals galore, possession and excitement, Lobera’s side ticked every single box while playing against Odisha.
In absence of star midfielder Hugo Boumous, the former Las Palmas manager deployed both Bartholomew Ogbeche and Adam Le Fondre together upfront. The decision proved to be fruitful as Ogbeche scored a brace. Le Fondre was given the role of playing in the hole behind the Nigerian and the English striker was impressive.
For Odisha, this tie marked the debut of former India international winger Steven Dias as a head coach of a top tier Indian club. Dias took over the reins from interim coach Gerry Peyton who had to leave the camp due to personal exigency.
Odisha were off to a dream start as Diego Mauricio broke the deadlock from the penalty spot after Jerry Mawihmingthanga went down inside the box after a clash with Ahmed Jahouh. It was a perfect beginning for Dias as a manager but it soon turned into a nightmare as the Islanders scored four times before heading into the break.
Ahmed Jahouh missed a penalty while Lobera took off Le Fondre and Ogbeche early in the second half, which probably helped keep the scoreline to 6-1.
The Kalinga Warriors once again looked clueless as the players ran around on the pitch without many purposes. Also, the injury to captain Steven Taylor forced him to leave the pitch early in the game which benefited Mumbai City greatly.
The Islanders have shrugged off the temporary poor form and are back to their very best. Lobera was absolutely right when he said, “it is going to an amazing match against ATK Mohun Bagan.”