Mumbai City FC is set to take on the challenge presented by Bengaluru FC in the second leg of the Indian Super League semifinals. Bengaluru FC hold a slender one-goal lead going into the second leg over the Islanders. Mumbai City FC will take on the Blues away from home in the second-leg of the semifinals at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on March 12 with action kicking off at 7.30pm IST.
Mumbai City FC secured the League Winners’ Shield, finishing top of the table before coming into the playoffs stage of the 2022-23 ISL season. Bengaluru FC, who staged a remarkable turnaround in the League stage to make it to the Playoffs, defeated Kerala Blasters 1-0 to set up a Semifinal against the Islanders.
Despite the Islanders controlling majority of the proceedings, Des Buckingham’s side failed to find the back of the net in the first leg and finished on the wrong side of a 1-0 scoreline with Bengaluru FC taking a slender one goal lead to the second leg in Bengaluru.
Des Buckingham, in his pre match press conference, spoke about what he expects out of this Mumbai City FC squad in the second leg. “It’s one of a reaction. The good thing is when I look back at the game up until the point where we conceded from a set piece, we had control of the game and we created chances. We just didn’t hit the target. We’ve got a group of players that know exactly what we need to do, go in there and the beauty of knockout football is it gives you another chance to go and do that. So we’re ready as are all the players.”
He went on to talk about how he sees the second-leg playing out, as he said, “We look back across, now the three games that we’ve played against Bengaluru FC. We scored against them in the Durand Cup. We scored against them, away from home in the league. It’s the first time that we hadn’t scored with what some would argue was our first team in the first-leg. But when I look at it, we created chances. The only difference is I said after the game, I think we’ve played far worse than that this year and won the game three or four nil. We know we need to just get better in those final moments, but we also need to have different ways of doing certain things at certain times. The good thing is we’ve had some time to rest. The players are very hungry and so is the staff and we’ll make sure that we’ve got different ways of doing things if we need to throughout the game. It’s a game I’m very much looking forward to.”
The prolific Greg Stewart accompanied Buckingham for the conference, and he spoke about how everyone in the team has got a very important role to play in the second-leg, “I think Des said it best, I think we actually played well in the last game. It was just that final pass, that final shot which didn’t really go in for us on the night. But as we know we’ve got quality all over the team. Everyone’s contributed this season, so we know it’s not a problem. We know we can go there and score goals. Also the game is far from finished, so I’m excited. I am sure my teammates are excited as well. It’s a challenge for us and hopefully we can overcome it.”
He went on to talk about how focused the players are in the squad ahead of this game. “No matter what, the game was never going to be won or lost in the first leg for both teams. Yeah, of course we would like to be one nil up, but it’s not the case. Nothing would have changed if we went one nil up and how we would approach this game. We know what we need to do as a team and I think we’ve got a team more than capable of going and getting the job done.”
Buckingham added to the same, by saying, “I wouldn’t say this group needs refocusing. It’s a very professional, humble, hard working group who are very, very keen for a reaction in this game.”
Coach Buckingham concluded the press conference by sending a message to the travelling fans, as he said, “We are doing everything we possibly can to make sure that we can give our fans something more to cheer for this season. We’ve obviously got one of the trophies we wanted with the Shield. We know there’s another one that’s very close, but we know what we need to do to put ourselves and our fans and our club into that Final and we’ll be doing everything we can to do that, and hopefully they can be a big part of helping us do that, you know, from the moment we arrive through the game and hopefully afterwards we can, we can celebrate together to move our season on again, to put ourselves in the chance to pick up another trophy.”
The game will kick off at 7:30pm IST and will be broadcast live on the Star Sports Network, Hotstar, and Jio TV for all viewers in India.