Bolstered by the arrival of India captain Sunil Chhetri and three other national team players, Mumbai City FC would look to consolidate their position at the top when they take on FC Pune City in an Indian Super League football match.
Besides Chhetri, his Bengaluru FC team-mates Udanta Singh, Amrinder Singh and Lalchhuanmawia Fanai have joined the Mumbai squad after playing in the final of the AFC Cup against Air Force Club of Iraq in Doha last week.
Mumbai are leading the table with 15 points from nine matches but head coach Alexandre Guimaraes said his team still has work to do before reaching their first target of making it to knock-out stage.
“We cannot fall into this trap that we are almost there. We have a good chance and we have to keep going,” said Guimaraes.
Asked specifically if any of the four Bengaluru FC players will be handed a starting role tomorrow at Mumbai Football Arena, Guimaraes was non-committal, only mentioning that they were “hungry to be in the squad and be part of this Mumbai City season”.
“We are glad to have them with us. That makes the group much bigger and gives me resources and possibilities with which players to start. At the end of the tournament, this is like a blessing for us,” said the Costa Rican coach.
Guimaraes could be tempted to hand Chhetri a place in the starting eleven for his team after striking rich form in the AFC Cup. Chhetri was also the leading goal scorer for Mumbai City last season.
“You never know what is going to happen in a derby. We are prepared to play the right game and try to win. The other team has changed a little bit, their approach, and know they cannot lose. That is the attraction that we have,” said the Mumbai coach.
Mumbai won their opening battle against Pune City in Pune but the visitors will now feel confident after scripting a good win against former champions Atletico de Kolkata.
Pune City are lying seventh with nine points and will jump to the top four with full points.
“After the last match, this group is good. The players are ready. After the match against ATK, the group is fantastic. Mumbai had defeated us in Pune. We will try to beat them tomorrow. We know it’s difficult but we will try,” said Pune head coach Antonio Habas.
Pune have not lost an away match this season although their past suggests that they are yet to score a goal at Mumbai. It will be of concern for Habas that Pune have not managed a single clean sheet this season and their run of 12 matches without a clean sheet is the longest in ISL history.