On Monday, reigning champions Mumbai City FC will open their Indian Super League (ISL) 2021-22 season in a crunch contest against FC Goa at the PNJ Stadium in Fatorda. The new-look Islanders again start as one of the favourites for the title despite losing the quartet of coach Sergio Lobera, Adam Le Fondre, Amrinder Singh and Hugo Boumous. While Lobera has been promoted within the City Football Group, Le Fondre has joined Syndey FC in the Australian League. Amrinder and Boumous have jumped ship and joined ATK Mohun Bagan, the team they defeated in last year’s final.
Des Buckingham, the former assistant coach of Melbourne City FC, one of Mumbai’s sister clubs under the City Football Group, has been brought in to replace Lobera. Le Fondre has been replaced with Igor Angulo, the former FC Goa forward. Overall, MCFC have a decent side that can move up and down the pitch, and this strength will be tested right away against a well-drilled FC Goa side.
ALSO READ | Can the Islanders Repeat Last Season’s Success?
Ahead of this crunch contest, the Islanders have received best wishes from arguably one of the best coaches in the world of football, all the way from Manchester.
In a short video message, Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola wished his sister club all the best for the season.
At the end of the video message Pep also hinted that he would love to visit India some time.
A few weeks back, Manchester City announced a new regional partnership with DreamSetGo, India’s first premium bespoke sports travel and experiences platform. It has become the Manchester-based club’s Official Football Hospitality Experiences Partner in India.
THE MUMBAI vs GOA RIVALRY
Mumbai City FC and FC Goa go a long way in the ISL and have played out some of the most fascinating contests in the competition’s history. And when that happens, there is a birth of a rivalry, a healthy rivalry, but a rivalry nonetheless.
The two teams have played each other 18 times in the Hero ISL. The Islanders have played more games against the Gaurs than any other team, while FC Goa have played more games against Mumbai City than all teams except Chennaiyin FC.
The Gaurs have scored 38 goals against Mumbai City FC, more than they have scored against any other opposition in the ISL. This is also the highest any team has scored against any opposition in ISL history. Mumbai City’s three worst losses in ISL history have come at the hands of FC Goa. A 7-0 loss in November 2015, A 5-0 loss in October 2018, and a 5-1 loss in March 2019.