ISL: Do or die for Mumbai City, Chennaiyin for playoff berth
Mumbai City FC will have to win their last league game against Chennaiyin FC here on Friday to make the playoffs in the Indian Super League.
Mumbai : Mumbai City FC will have to win their last league game against Chennaiyin FC here on Friday to make the playoffs in the Indian Super League. FC Goa, ATK FC and Bengaluru FC have already qualified for the playoffs and now there is only one vacant spot.
A win will ensure qualification for either side - Mumbai City or Chennaiyin FC - making it a virtual do-or-die clash. Mumbai City stand fourth right now with 26 points from 17 matches and cannot afford anything less than a win against Owen Coyle's side (Chennaiyin FC), who are fifth with 25 points.
However, even a draw will do for Chennaiyin FC, who have played a game less than Mumbai. A win will definitely take Chennaiyin through, but a draw also keeps their fate in their own hands, with an away game against NorthEast United FC coming up next week.
A loss will put Chennaiyin out of contention and raise the stakes further. Odisha, placed sixth, will also be keen on the outcome of Friday's game, with anything other than a draw set to knock them out.
Mumbai will have to shrug off their 5-2 hammering by FC Goa and start afresh. Coach Jorge Costa knows the importance and his strikers Modou Sougou (3 goals from 13 games) and Amine Chermiti (6 goals from 15 games) will have to put up another spectacular show.
Sougou and Chermiti have had decent share of success and will need to fire on cylinders at the Mumbai Football Arena. Pranjal Bhumij is also a key striker for the home side.
Mumbai also boasts of strong midfielders, including Raynier Fernandes, Diego Carlos, Rowllin Borges, Mohammed Rafique, Mohamed Larbi, Bipin Singh, Sourav Das, Bidyananda Singh and Serge Angoue, who are available for selection.
Carlos, Larbi and Borges, Bipin Singh have two goals to their names in this season and the chemistry between the midfielders has to come good in this do-or-die game.
Mumbai's attack has never been the concern but the defence is surely a cause for worry. Defenders including Pratik Chaudhari, Mato Grgic, Subhasish Bose, Keenan Almedia and Valpuia would be under pressure to keep the Chennai strikers at bay.
Mumbai's goal-keeper Amrinder Singh, who has four clean-sheets from 17 games, will also play a decisive role. He would be aiming for another clean-sheet, but has an arduous task at hand.
Mumbai coach Jorge Costa said, "Tomorrow is the most important game of the season and it's good for me to have all players available."
"Chennaiyin FC have changed the way they play and have a very good team with good players. We must play together against them as a team," he said, adding he believes that the team can win.