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ISL: Mumbai City FC face FC Pune City in must-win Maharasthra derby

Mumbai City FC have lost their last three games at the Mumbai Football Arena and Sunday’s derby vs FC Pune City could be their last chance to salvage a place in the Indian Super League (ISL) top-four.

football Updated: Feb 10, 2018 19:15 IST
Sarthak Bal
Sarthak Bal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Mumbai City FC,FC Pune City,Indian Super League
Mumbai City FC coach Alexandre Guimaraes speaks during the press conference before the Indian Super League game between Mumbai City FC and FC Pune City held at the Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai on 10th February 2018. (ISL / SPORTZPICS)

Mumbai City FC manager Alexandre Guimaraes has urged his players to be more decisive in front of goal ahead of their crucial home tie against Maharashtra rivals FC Pune City on Sunday.

Currently seventh in the table with four games until the end of their league phase, Mumbai City’s home run has been the contributing factor to their lowly positioning.

They have lost their last three games at the Mumbai Football Arena and Sunday’s derby could be their last chance to salvage a place in the top-four.

“We know that because of some other results in the week, we have a chance to make the play-offs. Tomorrow is a good chance for us to continue to stay in the race. We have to continue to do what we have been doing because our performances in the last two games have been very good. But we have to convert our chances,” Guimaraes told reporters on the eve of the game.

Citing their inability to kill off games due to poor finishing, the Costa Rican hopes that his team can convert from their openings even if it means creating fewer opportunities.

“I think we have created chances. But we haven’t been decisive with the final pass or finishing. This has hurt us a lot in our home games. In away games we have been scoring from the chances we produce. I hope tomorrow we can at least score as much as we create even if we don’t create a lot,” said the 58-year-old.

Guimaraes also backed Indian forward Balwant Singh, who was guilty of missing some good chances in their 2-1 defeat to Jamshedpur FC last week, to come good.

“Until now he has been very productive but sometimes players have a bad night. But his temperament is great and so he is rearing to go tomorrow,” said Guimaraes.

FC Pune City on the other hand are comfortably placed second in the standings but will be looking consolidate their position in the top-four.

The visiting team’s manager Ranko Popovic, who was handed a touchline ban after their 1-0 win over NorthEast United FC, could be confronted with a similar complication on Sunday. But he can certainly take some solace from his side’s away form -- having won four of their six games on the travels.

“No match is easy in football, especially in this last phase. We have two or three steps to make the top-four. I hope tomorrow we make one of these steps,” FC Pune City’s assistant coach Vladica Grujic said.

“This is the Maharashtra derby. And I know Mumbai will give it all to take control. But for our team it’s important to get into the winning mentality. We want to win every game. Mumbai have strong players like Thiago Santos and Balwant (Singh) but we also know where we are strong,” he added.

First Published: Feb 10, 2018 19:15 IST