Mumbai City FC’s performance in their Indian Super League 2016 semifinal first-leg encounter against Atletico de Kolkata could come in the way of them making the final of the tournament for the first-time ever. Mumbai’s defence, usually astute, crumbled to let in three goals in the first half against a well-oiled ATK, who won 3-2 in Kolkata.
Diego Forlan’s absence could prove to be the biggest handicap for Mumbai City FC. The Uruguayan striker who won the Golden Boot at FIFA World Cup in 2010 was sent off in the first-leg with two yellow cards and will sit out of the all-important return clash.
Four of Forlan’s five goals have come at Mumbai Football Arena and Mumbai City FC have not won a single game when Forlan has sat out, including a 1-1 draw against Atletico de Kolkata in Mumbai.
Before the first-leg encounter, Mumbai City had conceded more than one goal only once in this season. So the key to success in their second-leg at the Mumbai Football Arena on Tuesday will depend on their defence recouping coherence from the Kolkata setback.
Lucian Goian leads the ISL for most tackles with an average of 4.9 successful tackles a game in the group stage. But against ATK last Saturday, the Romanian only registered one clean tackle.
His defensive partner Anwar Ali and left wingback Sena Ralte struggled with the pace of the ATK strikers. Ralte, in fact, picked up a yellow card for repeatedly felling Sameehg Doutie and needed to be substituted at the start of the second half to avoid suspension.
Mumbai head coach Alexandre Guimaraes conceded that his players lacked intensity and need to raise the tempo if they desire to advance into the final. He was optimistic of success in second-leg based on Mumbai’s home record.
Mumbai have conceded the least number of goals at home this season, having let in just three. They also lead the league in clean sheets with four, all of which have come at home.
However, just as Mumbai take heart from their home record, ATK have been a side on a mission when on the road. In away games, ATK rank among the best teams in the ISL this season. As visitors, they have lost just one match, won three and scored 10 goals in the process.
Besides, the Kolkata side have been the most prolific ISL team to visit Mumbai, scoring six goals in three matches played here over all seasons.
While ATK, champions in the inaugural ISL season, will hope to make the final for the second time in three years, Mumbai have a bright chance of making their maiden final playing in front of their home crowd.