Mumbai: Mumbai City FC secured a hard-fought 1-1 draw in their last game against Hyderabad FC. The Islanders have arguably been the best team in the Indian Super League (ISL) with the Nizams being their primary challenger this season. In the recent game between the two heavyweights, the match turned out to be an extremely physically grueling game in which the Islanders showcased great character. After going 1-0 up early in the game through Jorge Pereyra Díaz’s spot kick, the Islanders showed an excellent spirit to curb and control the Nizams attacking prowess, bar one moment.
Tough mentality instilled
Despite the draw, the mental and physical fortitude of the Islanders’ squad was epitomized by their performance against Hyderabad FC, and even more so with the comeback win against Jamshedpur FC in the week before, meaning that the Islanders have faced challenges of different shapes and sizes through the course of the season and have overcome all.
The Islanders, especially over their last five games in the Hero ISL, have shown an exceptional mentality to fight till the final whistle and indomitable resilience. This has in turn seen them extend their undefeated run to 17 games so far this season, in which they have secured 13 wins.
Talking about the team’s fiercely resilient mentality, club captain Mourtada Fall said, “We do not give up ever in matches at any moment. We all step onto the pitch ready to fight for every ball. We are always mentally ready for a challenging game. This allows us to execute our plans on the pitch of how we want to play and the way we work towards getting the result that we want.”
He added, “Against Hyderabad FC, we as a team had to be switched on for the entire game. We were aware of the quality they have in their team and we did not want to make an error. Even after the game became somewhat of a physical battle which was very draining mentally as well, we remained calm and composed as we were constantly looking for a decisive goal till the final whistle to clinch the win. ”
Team unified to dig deep
Fall further went on to say, “The squad's ability to dig deep in tough situations has made sure we are where we are in the league right now. We make sure we keep our focus and concentrate on the execution as much as we can. I believe this gives us a mental edge in our games. So even if we go a goal down, we make sure we don’t let our heads drop and just concentrate on executing the game plan.”
While recalling the Islanders’ performances in recent games, Fall said, “In the game against Jamshedpur, they did really well at not allowing us to create as many chances as we would have liked to in the first half, and after going a goal down we dug deeper as a team and showed excellent fighting spirit to secure the win in the last 10 minutes of the game. We pushed ourselves to keep fighting for the result till the last minute and came away with the victory."
Mourtada concluded by crediting the squad’s mental toughness to coach Buckingham and the staff, he said, “The head coach Des and the staff here have made sure they instill a fighting spirit in all the players in the squad. They have made sure we are mentally tough and prepared going into each game. Moreover, the entire group is like a family here. We want to fight for each other. This mental toughness has helped us to fight as a unit in tough situations in each game.”
Mumbai City FC are on the road for two back to back away games, starting with FC Goa. The Islanders will take on the Gaurs on Feb 11 at the PJN Stadium in Fatorda at 5:30 PM.
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