Revamped Mumbai FC seek Shillong Lajong revenge

Mumbai FC travel to the north-east to take on Shillong Lajong in their 2016 I-League opener scheduled to be held on Sunday afternoon at Shillong’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. Khalid Jamil’s men will look to get their campaign off to a flying start on the road, before the men in yellow return to Mumbai for three consecutive home games.

Mumbai FC had a bit of a nightmare at the start of the campaign, when they lost three games in a row to find themselves bottom of the table after three games. However, a rejuvenated Mumbai outfit would be looking to hit the ground running against a Shillong Lajong side which has got the better of them in recent history.

Form Guide

Mumbai FC head into the I-League season in rich vein of form as they sit top of the MDFA Elite Division table with eleven games played. Mumbai FC also triumphed in the Nadkarni Cup, to remain unbeaten in the local action so far. Mumbai FC’s last defeat dates back to April when Dempo secured a controversial win through a late Carlos Hernandez penalty. However, the latest 1-1 draw with former I-League side ONGC is the only time Mumbai has failed to win a game this season, and Head Coach Khalid Jamil would have learnt plenty about his side’s bench strength from that game.

Shillong Lajong were quite brilliant at the dead end of last season, a run which started with the 6-0 demolition of Mumbai FC at Cooperage. Since then Shillong Lajong have avoided the relegation and also gone on to win the Shillong Premier League piping last year’s surprise package in the I-League, Royal Wahingdoh, to the title.

So the form guide tells there is little to choose between the two sides.

Head to Head Statistics

Shillong Lajong have a slightly better head to head record against Mumbai FC having won five out of the ten encounters between the two sides. Mumbai FC aren’t too far behind, having beaten Shillong Lajong on four occasions, while just one game between the two sides ending in a draw.

Shillong Lajong had the better of Mumbai FC despite finishing three places below them in the I-League charts last season. The 6-0 defeat of Mumbai FC was one of the most shocking results of the season, and may give the Red and Whites added boost ahead of their game with Mumbai FC. Mumbai FC’s last victory over Shillong Lajong did come at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Shillong in 2014, when Khalid Jamil’s men triumphed 2-1 in the north-east.

Shillong Lajong sneaked a 1-0 win in the corresponding fixture last season, despite being second best for much of the game.

Team News

Mumbai FC

Melem Metei is out for Mumbai FC after the new signing from Bengaluru FC didn’t travel with the team to Shillong. Meanwhile, Mumbai FC are sweating over the availability of skipper Taisuke Matsugae who is down with fever as revealed by Team Manager Henry Picardo ahead of the game. But the team management is hopeful the Japanese will be able to recover in time to face his former club. The game will come too soon for defender Anwar Ali who injured his ankle in the game against ONGC recently as Pratik Chaudhary is expected to take his place in central defense alongside the commanding figure of Min Chol Son who is set to make his debut for the Yellow Submarines against the team he left to join them.

Mumbai FC fans may finally get to see Arata Izumi in a Mumbai FC shirt, but its uncertain in what capacity would the Japanese born Indian midfielder be involved in the game that would see fan favorite Jayesh Rane and the experienced Steven Dias start on the flanks for Khalid Jamil’s men.

Shillong Lajong

Shillong Lajong have a fit side for the clash against Mumbai FC, but Head Coach Thangboi Singto was worried about the players who returned from the ISL and revealed that he was slightly unsure about the fitness of players like Aiborlang Khongjee who also was a part of the Indian side which won the SAFF Cup recently. However, Shillong Lajong’s foreign contingent is likely to feature in the game against Mumbai FC.

Gaffer’s Insight

Mumbai FC Team Manager Henry Picardon was wary of Shillong Lajong’s threat and conceded that his team would need to cope with the chilly conditions in Shillong. “It’s not going to be an easy match as Shillong definitely have the home advantage. The chilly weather would suit them, but our boys are coping well and should be able to adjust to the climate,” Picardo said as he conveyed his thoughts about the game to the gathered media.

Key Facts

Mumbai FC have never won an I-League game without Taisuke Matsugae, since the Japanese has joined the club in 2014.

Key Battles

Fabio Henrique vs Min Chol Son

Shillong Lajong’s major sign this season Fabio Henrique will make his bow for the club against Mumbai FC, and will have his task cut out to fill Cornell Glenn’s shoes. Henrique will be the Shilong Lajong’s chief goal threat against Mumbai FC and the Brazilian will be looking to start his stint in India with a bang.

Min Chol Son who played for Shillong Lajong last season will also be making his debut for Mumbai FC. His very first assignment will get the best out of him as he attempts to stifle Shillong’s Brazilian striker. The battle will be vital to Mumbai FC’s chances as if they manage to keep a clean sheet in this game, Lajong’s rather leaky defence will give them the chance to win the game.

Steven Dias vs Yusuke Yamagata

Steven Dias is back playing for his home town club again and will pose a threat down Mumbai’s right hand side. Dias often hailed as the ‘Indian David Beckham’ has a great ability to deliver crosses into the box. With the Mumbai FC midfield full of runners who fancy a late run in the box, Lajong will have to cut off the supply from Steven Dias into the box.

Shillong Lajong’s Japanses full back Yusuke Yamagata will be directly up against Steven Dias and will have to stop the crosses from the former Bharat FC winger. Yusuke will be handful going forward and Steven Dias will have to track the Japanese’s runs from time to time. The battle on Mumbai’s right hand side could well decide the game.

Prediction

Shillong Lajong 1-1 Mumbai FC

Mumbai FC will find it hard to cope with the conditions in Shillong and that will give Shillong an inch in the game. But Mumbai FC’s knack of getting draws might come handy for them in the Meghalaya capital as a point on the road might not be the worst way to start their campaign.

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