Mumbai FC season review 2015-16: Part IV

AWAY JINX CONTINUES

Following our 2-2 draw against Aizawl FC, we were scheduled to play four away games in a row. A tricky encounter against Salgaocar SC was followed by disappointing result against defending champions Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC. We played our last away game of the I-league campaign against the mighty ‘Red & Golds’ East Bengal, where we earned a respectable draw.

Salgaocar SC, who headed into the game after defeating East Bengal a week earlier seemed very confident to get a positive result against us.

In the pre-match conference, gaffer Khalid Jamil didn’t hide his intentions to earn a point against Salgaocar, “We are playing away and when you play away you need to be very careful.”

Khalid had also stated that defenders had to avoid giving away silly penalties as they did against the Flaming Oranje during their last visit to Goa, “When we played Sporting in Goa this season, we gave away two penalties in ten minutes. We have worked very hard this season and I will keep telling my players to be careful during the game as well.”

We clinched a deserving 2-2 draw after coming back twice to earn a point at Tilak Maidan. Jackichand Singh had given Salgaocar SC a cushion lead in the 23rd minute before Sushil Kumar converted from the spot kick to level the score.

Salgaocar’s Brian Mascarenhas restored the parity in the second half after scoring from the left side of the area as he beat goalkeeper Pawan Kumar in the 49th minute.

We earned our second penalty in the 65th minute when a Salgaocar defender handled the ball inside the penalty box. Ryuki Kozawa stepped up and scored past Karanjit to make the score two-all. Both the outfit were forced for an honourable 2-2 draw.

This was ours third successive 2-2 draw as we headed to Kolkata for the big game against Mohun Bagan.

“Mohun Bagan have been playing well since last season and considering their recent form they are the team to beat. They have a very strong attack, which includes Sony Norde, Cornell Glen, Jeje Lalpekhlua and skipper Yusa Katsumi and they are playing well. It’s going to be a tough match, but we try to put up a good fight and get a positive result,” Khalid told in the press conference.

The defending champions proved too good for us as we suffered a 2-0 loss, courtesy of Katsumi Yusa and Sony Norde’s free kick goal.

After battling out Mohun Bagan, we travelled to Bangalore for our next game against title contenders Bengaluru FC on 2nd April. Not to forget, our last victory prior to this game came against Bengaluru FC, when we defeated them 2-0 at Cooperage.

“That match is history. We now have to focus on tomorrow’s game which is very important for us. We have to be positive and play to our plan and try to get the best result,” Khalid told back then, who seemed relaxed and spoke with confidence ahead of this tense and high-voltage encounter in the pre match briefings.

In a close encounter, a lone goal by David Lalhlimpuia in the 81st minute was enough for Bengaluru FC as they registered a narrow 1-0 victory over us. Despite creating openings, we felt short of putting the ball into the back of the net.

We travelled to Kolkata again after our game against Bengaluru FC, this time to face East Bengal which was also happen to be our last away game of the season.

After the Bengaluru FC game, we went down to the bottom of the table with only 12 points.

“Yes we are last in the league right now but we drew against Kingfisher East Bengal at home, but this is an away match so we have to fight hard,” Khalid told in the pre-match conference.

In a thrilling contest, we drew all our strength to earn a hard-fought draw against the ‘Red & Golds”. Former Indian International Steven Dias scored a brilliant free kick to put us in the lead before Ranti Martins scored the equalizer on the half hour mark.

Bernard Mendy had put East Bengal in front soon in the second half, but defender Ashutosh Mehta scored a fantastic header from Jayesh Rane’s cross to tie the match at 2-2. Both the sides earned a point as we headed into our last two games at Cooperage.

HAPPY ENDING

Our last two games was a must win game as we were battling out for survival. We needed to put all the strength together to take out the better of those two matches.

We hosted Lajong on 17th April which Khalid Jamil admitted as “Our last chance” in the pre-match conference.

Huge crowd turned up for the game, and with Yellow Brigade at helm, it just made the atmosphere at Cooperage more electrifying.

We took the lead through the ‘Indian David Beckham’ Steven Dias who once again scored from a free kick to put us in the front foot. Lajong fought back with a goal from Fabio Pena who converted from the spot in the 56th minute.

With the match heading to an unlikely draw, Minchol Son’s looping header from Steven Dias’ corner gave us a 2-1 lead with only four minutes left on the clock. We held our nerves in the final minutes to earn all important three points.

We played our final I-league game against DSK Shivajians in the Maha Derby in hope to avenge the 1-0 defeat in the corresponding fixture.

Prior to the game, Head Coach Khalid Jamil admitted that it’s very special to play against Derrick Pereira’s side.

“It is always a pleasure to play against Sir’s (Derrick Pereira) team. I have always enjoyed playing against him and it is quite tough to beat his side,” Khalid Jamil told the media.

The match was undoubtedly ours best performance in the I-league since our inception in 2007. Brace from Eric Brown, a goal apiece from Jayesh Rane and Sushil Kumar inflicted a 4-0 defeat on DSK Shivajians to end our I-league campaign on a high note.

Former Indian International Sushil Kumar was our top scorer with five goals in total.

We finished the season on 5th which is also our personal best and stayed undefeated at home for the whole season.

Federation Cup 2016

We were drawn to face Sporting Clube de Goa in the first round of Federation Cup in a new home and away format including away goals rule. The 1st leg was scheduled to be played at our home Cooperage on 1st May, while the return leg was at Fatorda in Goa on 4th May.

“It’s a new format so we will only see if it’s good or not after the tournament,” Khalid Jamil told the media.

In a close affair, an injury time goal by Sumeet Passi earned Sporting Goa a 1-0 victory at Cooperage in the 1st leg.

Any hope of making in the last four ended when Mateus Costa’s side registered a 1-0 victory in the return leg to win the tie 2-0 on aggregate. Subhashish Bose converted a dubious penalty in the 46th minute which proved to be decisive.

We produced a determined fighting display, but were unfortunate to pay the penalty as we bowed out from the Federation Cup.

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