Mumbai City FC have suffered their first home defeat of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2016 season, losing 1-0 to FC Goa on Friday. Goa's Brazilian midfielder Richarlyson scored the game's only goal in the 41st minute, while Alexandre Guimaraes' men struggled to break Goa's defence despite the return of their marquee player, Diego Forlan.
The match was a cagey, physical affair with very few chances created by either team. The defeat meant Mumbai missed out on a great opportunity to go back to the top of the ISL table. Guimaraes, who had said before the match that his team would play "cautious" football to negate Goa's attack, tried to focus on the positives and praised his players' spirit. "The guys showed high spirit to go for it, but unfortunately in the final fourth of the pitch, we didn't have the right ball," he said.
"It was like a one-ball game. It is the kind of game where the team with the chances has to score, because there aren't a lot of possibilities. The two teams were very cautious in the first half. We had our chances and they had theirs. In the second half, we moved everything that we had, to try and at least get a draw," he added.
Mumbai had started their campaign with two wins, but have managed only two points from their last four matches. To add to their woes, they now have a lot of players missing through injury. Leo Costa and Anwar Ali were sidelined from the action after picking up injuries in their previous match, and now Matias Defederico and Pranoy Halder could join the list.
"We have to think specially. And also think about our injured players. This sometimes happens when you play like we did in six matches in our last 20 days. Then we will go to Kolkata and try to get the points we didn't get here," Guimaraes told reporters after the disappointing loss.
Former Manchester United forward Forlan returned to the starting XI after being out for the last three games. Though he played the full 90 minutes, he looked sluggish and cut a lone figure in front. He struggled with his movement and only contributed through free-kicks, which also failed to threaten Goa. But Guimaraes was confident that Forlan will hit goal-scoring form soon. "He did what we asked from him. The situation was that everyone was always covering him, two guys sometimes. We didn't have the penetration when he moved to get forward. But I think he now has the chance to play more often. So he will get more involved in the game as he plays more and more often," the coach said in support of his star player.
Rakesh Oram, an 18-year-old midfielder from Odisha, was handed his first start of the tournament, and received high praise from his manager. Guimaraes said, "I think he did very well. It's not easy for a young guy to show like this. He had a very good pre-season. He waited for his time and he did very well. I am very pleased he took the chance and showed he’s capable to be in (the starting XI) and play."
Mumbai conceded just before half-time after Julio Cesar's free-kick from the right side of the box was met by Richarlyson, who converted with a splendid half-volley. However, Guimaraes wasn't too concerned by their defensive error and thought his team did well overall. "We had to take out Anwar as a precautionary measure. Last game against Delhi, he was injured. So we had to make a change. I think defensively we did well, we didn't have too many problems. Aiborlang Khongjee playing there and Ashutosh Mehta playing on the right," the Costa Rican said.
In the match against Goa, Forlan took multiple free-kicks from dangerous areas outside the box. Most of them sailed wide and long, or failed to be received by any of his teammates. The coach admitted that their poor execution of set pieces was a growing concern. "Yes we have to work on them, indeed. This is a situation in which we did very well in pre-season, but now we are not good at putting the ball at the place where it has to be. We are going to have a little break after the Kolkata game. So this will be one of the assignments that we will work on," he added.
Guimaraes has in the past managed the Costa Rican national team and led his nation through qualification to the 2002 and 2006 Fifa World Cup. Before signing off, he commented on India's rise by 11 spots to 137 in the world rankings. "All these intentions of Indian football to grow, the growth of national team is also very important. I know that because I almost have some 100 caps as national coach. I am very glad (by their rise) and I would like to congratulate them. This is good for Indian football," he concluded.
Updated Date: Oct 22, 2016 14:16 PM