Taisuke might miss the opener against Shillong Lajong

It’s not going to be an easy task for Mumbai FC as they take on Shillong Lajong in their opening fixture of the AIFF I-League (2015-2016) football tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shillong on Sunday evening.

The Mumbai side who had ended the last season with two successive wins against East Bengal and Bharat FC, now defunct, would like to continue with their winning form. That would certainly boost their confidence and help them to try and win the championship or at least improve on last year’s sixth place finish, which was their best performance in this competition.

Mumbai FC, the lone club from the city challenging for the top honours in this premier competition in the country, are aware that the cooler climate conditions would make it tough for them, but at the same are confident of starting the season on a bright, positive note.

“It’s not going be an easy match, as Shillong definitely have the home advantage. The chilly weather would also suit them, but our boys are coping well and should be able to adjust to the climate. That is not much of a worry as it is always better to perform well in cooler conditions rather than the heat,” pointed out Mumbai FC Manager, Henry Picardo.

The manager mentioned that the only concern at the moment for coach Khalid Jamil is that captain Taisuke Matsugae is a bit unwell. “Taisuke (Matsugae) is down with fever, which is a bit of worry for coach Jamil.  But there are chances that he will recover fully by Sunday afternoon. We will check if he is strong enough for the tough grind, otherwise he will not be included for the game,” added Picardo.

New recruits, international Izumi Arata, Liberian Eric Brown along with seasoned stars Steven Dias and N.P. Pradeep will have to share the responsibility of marshalling the midfield. They will have to play a very crucial role to create openings for the strikers Jayesh Rane and Sushil Kumar to hit the target and also try to bolster the defence.

Mumbai FC’s tried and trusted defenders Ashutosh Mehta and Allan Dias will have to show good understanding with the new signings North Korean Min Chol Son, Pratik Chowdhary and Rammu Srikant to build a formidable fortress at the back and thwart the Shillong attack spearheaded by the leathal Nigerian Penn Orji. The backline will not have an easy time as the home side will keep pushing forward and try to maintain the winning momentum against the Mumbai side. Shillong had defeated Mumbai FC 1-0 in the home tie and later completely destroyed them in their own den, winning by a convincing 6-0 margin at the Cooperage ground.

The custodians, either Sanjiban Ghosh or Pawan Kumar will have be show plenty of alertness and be extra cautions to deny the rivals from finding the net.

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