Confident of a place in the playoffs, the contenders for the Mumbai City title need nothing less than a victory against the underpowered Odisha FC in a match of the Indian Super League here on Wednesday in an attempt to seal a place in the AFC Champions League.
With ATK leaders Mohun Bagan dropping points against Hyderabad, all eyes will be on Sergio Lobera’s Mumbai City to see if they can win and postpone the Shield race for league winners until the last day of the season.
Odysseus has only the pride to play, but he has a chance to ruin Mumbai City’s party. A win for Odisha or a draw will give ATKMB the prestigious ACL slot for next season, as they are 40 points away in just one game.
A win for Mumbai City will take them to 36 points and they can top the league table and win the League Winners’ Shield if they beat ATKMB in their last match on 28 February.
Mumbai City needs to shake off the track they are in. After being the best team in most of the league, the wheels came off right at the end. The Lobera men have won only one of their last six matches and have not won in their last three.
In their previous match, they collapsed to defeat by Jamshedpur FC and Lobera knows that the team needs improvement. “We have to improve our performance because we want to win this game. Playing like in the last game, it is impossible to win the game. The focus is on ourselves and we have to improve at both ends,” he said.
“We missed a lot of chances and also goals. We didn’t have a chance to score and we have to improve there. We hope this is already past. The most important thing is our present and our future. It was a bad day at the office and sometimes it happens. The important thing is not to repeat this, “Lobera added.
Former India international Stephen Diaz, who took over responsibility for FC Odyssey from interim manager Gerald Peyton, said his focus would be on younger players before the clash.
“We have really good young players. I still think we have a very balanced team. But we were so unfortunate. Since the beginning of the season Thoiba (Singh) and Saurabh (Meher) have played in the central midfield, but after one or two games even coach Stewart (Baxter) didn’t have a great chance to put Indian players, “he said.
“But they are very talented. In the future they will be very good players, but we didn’t have much chance to play some of the young players. I try to give a few young players a chance if they can. I personally think that in one game you can change your career. ”