Five reasons why Mumbai FC will remain unbeaten at Fortress Cooperage

5 reasons why Mumbai FC unbeaten at Cooperage
5 reasons why Mumbai FC  unbeaten at Cooperage

5 reasons why Mumbai FC unbeaten at Cooperage

Football returned to Mumbai big time with the revamped Cooperage playing host to Mumbai FC’s home games in the Hero I-League. It was a momentous occasion on 8th February 2015, when Sporting Club de Goa were the visitors as a bruised and battered Mumbai FC took to the field at Cooperage, winless, pointless on and off the I-League points charts.

By the end of the ninety minutes, Mumbai FC had their first point of the campaign, after a goalless draw, but very few knew at that time, that it was a start of something very special at the city’s iconic stadium.

Fast Forward to 22nd March 2015, Mumbai FC now sit sixth in the table with twelve points, nine of which have come at Cooperage where Mumbai FC are unbeaten after seeing off the Champion’s assault, knocking off league leaders and very nearly pulling off a coup against their local rivals.

After going five games unbeaten at Cooperage, Mumbai FC have turned Cooperage into a fortress, a one which will take some doing to breach. We take a look at a few reasons why Fortress Cooperage may never be breached this season.

1. Hostile Atmosphere for the visitors

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The crowds have poured in in large numbers to support the city’s only club. Cooperage may have moderate capacity, but the proximity of the stands to the pitch and the compactness of the stadium doubled up with the chirpy fans, makes it an intimidating prospect for the visitors. Coach Khalid Jamil has hailed the fans for turning up and believes there never has been such a backing any Mumbai based club has received thus far. Mumbai FC center back went on to brand the Mumbai FC faithful, the best in the country. The idrum have gone well with Mumbai FC who have definitely found rhythm at Cooperage.

2. Khalid’s winning mentality

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Khalid Jamil had got plenty of stick for his lack of gamesmanship and endorsing a rather dirty brand of football. While some of those claims still remain, but there is no doubt that Khalid Jamil has instilled in a winning mentality at Mumbai FC. They play to a style that might not be too appreciated by the artists of the game, but the style has got them an identity and stature of their own. They have dug deep, long threw teams out of a game, and also played teams off the Cooperage pitch. This great adaptability and flexibility which Mumbai FC has, has made them a tough nut to crack not just at Cooperage but anywhere else. Khalid’s philosophy is different, but is very effective indeed.

Bengaluru FC coach Ashley Westwood was testimonial to this fact. “I know Khalid and he has done well. He has got them down to play some lovely football and has stitched together a wonderful team. They will win more matches than they lose, that’s for sure”.

3. A local spine

Mumbai FC have good crop of local players who have come through the ranks in this city and know the conditions too well. There is a cohesiveness which the likes of Ashutosh Mehta, Jayesh Rane, Allan Dias and Rahul Bheke bring to the squad. The locals have big fan bases which make themselves heard in the stands adding to the Cooperage atmosphere. Any top club in the world always has a strong local base in terms of players and Mumbai FC is on terms with this world wide norm. The locals know the worth of winning a game for their people and always give that bit extra to the team.

4. The immaculate Custodian

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Mumbai FC have let in just three goals at Cooperage in five games and that number could have been a lot different had it not been for the sensational shot stopper Nidhin Lal. Lal single handedly thwarted Champions Bengaluru FC’s relentless attacks, the pick of them coming in the final minute of the game when Sean Rooney’s pin point header was destined for the top corner until Nidhin Lal heroically intervened to salvage Mumbai FC a draw. Starting from where he left against Bengaluru FC, Nidhin Lal kept his side in the game with some superb saves. If the Mumbai FC custodian remains in such form, then opponents dreaming of conquering Cooperage, could kiss their dreams a goodbye.

5. The rub of the green

More than the luck, it’s the artificial turf that has given Mumbai FC the upper hand. Pune FC tried hard to negate the advantage by playing friendlies ahead of their game, but little of that helped as they left Cooperage with just a point despite having a numerical advantage. The artificial turf will remain a worry for the visiting teams in the future and could prove to be the difference.

As far as the luck is concerned, it hasn’t gone Mumbai FC’s way so far as the hosts have been denied few penalties. But it’s only a matter of time before the law of averages catches up.

There is more to it than these factors, but if Mumbai FC end the season unbeaten at home, then it is likelier that some if not all factors would be at the thick of it.

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