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Mumbai City FC lucky to have Balwant Singh as one of the first picks: Coach

While Mumbai City FC boasted of the meanest defences last season, the departure of Sunil Chhetri and Diego Forlan from their frontline has raised questions on their attacking capability in the Indian Super League. They will now rely on Balwant Singh.

football Updated: Nov 14, 2017 19:25 IST
Sarthak Bal
Sarthak Bal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Balwant Singh,Sunil Chhetri,Diego Forlan
Balwant Singh of India (R) in action during an AFC Asian Cup match against Macau in October.(AFP)

Mumbai City FC managed their best finish in the Indian Super League (ISL) last season under the watchful eyes of Costa Rican coach Alexandre Guimaraes. After topping the group stage standings and narrowly missing out on the final, they will be keen on bettering their position in the fourth edition, commencing November 17.

While Mumbai boasted of the meanest defences last season, the departure of Sunil Chhetri and Diego Forlan from their frontline has raised questions on their attacking capability. Guimaraes though, is not worried. In fact, he seems to be slightly more optimistic about Mumbai’s chances this season.

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“You are talking about one of the veterans of Indian football. But the moment that I got to know that he (Chhetri) had had chosen to move to Bengaluru, we had to move on,” Guimaraes said on the India skipper leaving following two fairly successful seasons at Mumbai City FC.

In the wake of Chhetri’s departure, Mumbai have managed to acquire the services of Balwant Singh, one of the most highly rated strikers at the moment. The former Mohun Bagan player has three goals from just four appearances for India in past three months.

“We have been lucky in the draft to have picked up Balwant as one of our first picks. We are very satisfied with his signing. It is not my problem right now. It’s the national coach’s (Stephen Constantine) headache. I am happy to have Balwant,” said Guimaraes.

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Mumbai City did however manage to retain key players such as Gerson Viera, Lucian Goian, Sehnaj Singh and goalkeeper Amrinder Singh as they look to maintain their defensive edge. Guimaraes shared his views on the same.

“When I talked to the Board and the CEO (Indranil Das Blah), I mentioned the need to retain the core players that enabled us to be very strong defensively. They understood that and that’s why, with the nice experience they had altogether, the players came back again. And we have started to build on the rest of the team from there,” said the Costa Rican.

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Mumbai City’s pre-season tour to Spain ended with four wins and two draws, giving them an impetus. “I think that we have a possibility to experiment our playing style given the players we have this season. Last year, we had a Plan A and that was it. But now, we can change our approach depending on the game. Looking at the varied characteristics of the players and our pre-season outings, I am very optimistic,” said Guimaraes.

Mumbai City’s defensive stalwart Lucian Goian too agreed with his coach’s overall assessment of the team. “Last season, defence surely was our strong point looking back on those statistics. Defending however, is about all 11 players. We had a great work ethic and credit for that goes to the whole team. I believe upfront we have players who can make the difference. We are very confident that we can do well,” said the Romanian centre-back.

First Published: Nov 12, 2017 17:29 IST