Mumbai City FC became the first team to book a place in the semifinals of the Indian Super League this season with a 2-0 win over defending champions Chennaiyin FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Wednesday. Mumbai's famed attack once again worked their magic as goals from Matias Defederico and Krisztian Vadocz capped a dominant performance.
Managerial change has proved to be crucial for Mumbai this season with Alexandre Guimaraes bringing some much-needed stability to the club after the chaos under Nicolas Anelka in the previous term.
The west coastal outfit still have one game to go in the group stages before the semifinals, but it's not before they enjoy a ten-day break. Guimares was delighted to have met the club's primary objective and said that he will use the break to analyse the opponents who will fight for the remaining spots.
"We still have to play our last game. It is good for us to be in this position now. Now we have 10 days to analyse other teams that have a real possibility to qualify. We also have to see in what position we finish because that will decide when we play at home. So, there are a lot of things to analyse till the end of the league stage," Guimaraes said at the post-match press conference.
"Now is the time to congratulate the players, the entire organisation, and all the work that we did from the beginning. They reached the goal that was targeted by the organisation. We are very pleased," he added.
However with Mumbai going strong in the last couple of games, the ten-day gap from now till their next game could break the momentum they are riding on with the back-to-back victories. Their Costa Rican manager though dismissed any such chances and felt his side wouldn't lose any of the steam they have gathered.
"No, I don’t think so. Sometimes you lose this state of mind or the spirit when you are away. But we live all together in the same place, communicating all the time. So, it’s not possible that we will lose this momentum," the 57-year-old coach stated.
"We qualified with one game in hand so we are better than the last year. We are a better team in defence. We have another game where we didn’t concede. We have players that are getting better by the day. So, we are very optimistic about what’s next. We know what we have done is not easy and what we have to look for and to fight for is going to be much harder," he added.
In terms of the fitness, the break does come as a big relief for Mumbai as they can recharge their batteries before the big games and can get some key players like Leo Costa fit.
"We have a break of ten days, we played three games in one week, so we need to get some time to rest and recover. After this rest, I will have a chat with some of the players and my staff and decide what we have to do for the game against Delhi Dynamos FC," the Mumbai coach said.
"Also, there are some players I need to make sure get some minutes to play. They all are watching. There are two players who still haven’t played, so we will see," he stated.
The likes of Sony Norde, Jackichand Singh, Ashutosh Mehta and a few who have been regular starters in the ISL in the past have been on the fringe and haven't got a lot of minutes under their belt. This is a testament to Mumbai's squad depth and Guimaraes is pleased with such competition for a place in the starting XI.
"When you have this kind of competition between players, its a great thing. They (players) know that the players playing in the starting eleven are doing very well. After all these days, right from pre-season, I knew that everybody wants to fight for position (in the team). So when you have strength on your bench it is what every coach wants," he added.
However, for now, a bit of celebration wouldn't do much harm to Mumbai City FC considering it is the first time they have reached the semifinals. While the coach had little idea about what the players had on their mind, he hinted to the media about how he's going to celebrate this success.
"I don’t know about the players, but with my staff we are going to have a meeting in my room, of course!" a smiling Guimares signed off.