Mumbai City FC suffer setback in quest for AFC Champions League spot

Mumbai City FC were stunned 2-0 by Jamshedpur FC, making ATK Mohun Bagan favourites to claim the League Winners Shield.

By Naveen Peter ·

Early season’s pacesetters Mumbai City FC suffered yet another setback in their quest to clinch the top spot in the group stage of the Indian Super League (ISL) after a 2-0 loss to Jamshedpur FC at the Tilak Maidan in Goa on Saturday.

The group stages of ISL 2020-21 ends on February 28, with the group topper awarded the League Winners Shield ahead of the ISL playoffs. The team that earns the top spot also gains a direct entry into the group stages of the AFC Champions League.

But two second-half goals from Boris Singh (72nd minute) and David Grande (90th minute) undid the Islanders plans as Jamshedpur FC walked away with three points. Mumbai City FC had drawn 1-1 against Jamshedpur FC earlier in the season.

The loss means Mumbai City FC are now five points behind table-toppers ATK Mohun Bagan on the ISL points table.

Though the two are set to face off in the final match of the league stage, Mumbai City FC will have to bank on Hyderabad FC beating the Mariners on Monday to give them a chance of claiming the top spot in ISL 2020-21.

“Till now, we depended on ourselves. But now, we have to wait for the result on Monday. It is a difficult situation,” MCFC coach Sergio Lobera said. “I think that the game between ATK Mohun Bagan and Hyderabad FC is not an easy game, and if they (ATKMB) do not win, we will have our chances again.”

After losing their opening game of the ISL 2020-21 campaign, Mumbai City FC went 12 matches without a loss to lead the points table. But with three losses, two draws and a win in their past six games, the Mumbai find themselves in a tricky situation.

“In the most important moment of the season, we are losing games. Against Bengaluru FC, we created a lot of chances and were good in some periods of the game,” Lobera said. 

“(Normally) we are strong on the ball but in the first half, we couldn’t string together 10 passes. It’s difficult for us playing against a very good team. If we easily give them chances (to score), then this situation is possible,” Lobera added.

Jamshedpur FC’s Boris Singh celebrates after scoring his maiden ISL goal. Photo: ISL Media

Known for their possession-based game, Mumbai City FC were far from their usual best as they resorted to long balls against Jamshedpur FC. But with a well-drilled defence in place, Jamshedpur FC were comfortable in thwarting Mumbai’s attacks. 

Jamshedpur FC head coach Owen Coyle was all praise for his centre-back pairing.

“Another clean sheet tonight again. (Peter) Hartley and (Stephen) Eze have been outstanding,” Coyle said. “The boys in the defence stood up to everything that Mumbai City had. We have a lot of positives moving forward and that is something we have got to continue.”