Mumbai FC returns to I-League action after a long break as they host bottom-placed Rangdajied United FC for the first-time ever in a Round 11 encounter at the Balewadi Sports Complex, Pune on Wednesday.
Going into the game after an extended break – owing to no fixture scheduled in the previous round – a revitalized Mumbai FC side will be hoping to secure their first home win of the season.
Mumbai FC (7 pts, 9 games) are currently 11th in the table while Rangdajied United (4 pts, 9 games) sit two places below at 13th. This scenario makes the game important for either side as a win would propel them in the standings.
After securing a last gasp draw against Bengaluru FC in the last home game, Mumbai FC were unlucky as they went down 0-1 away to Mohammedan SC in the previous round. However, the hosts are eager to halt their winless run at home this season and have been working hard during the break.
Both sides have bolstered their squads by signing few players recently. Mumbai FC has brought in four new faces – defenders Peter Costa and Khelemba Singh along with former India internationals medio N. P. Pradeep and striker Mohammed Rafi.
After earning just one point from the last four home games, Coach Khalid Jamil wants his team to bounce back to winning ways while also hoping the new players settle in quickly.
The encounter also sees two coaches who have worked at junior-level in the Mumbai football scene come up against each other. Back in 2007-08, when Jamil was in-charge of the Mumbai FC U-19s, his counterpart and Rangdajied United Coach Santosh Kashyap was in-charge of Mahindra United U-19s. The two coaches employ similar tactics and lot will depend on how the teams gel together with the new signings.
Almost the entire team has been training in Pune with the only exception being winger Subhas Chakraborty, who suffered an injury during a practice session. Coach Jamil will however decide the final 18-man squad on Wednesday itself as he hopes to get the right combination.
The match is the first-ever meeting between the two sides in any competition and Mumbai FC will hope to make their mark in this encounter against the north-eastern side.
The game kicks off at 15.00 IST on Wednesday.