Mumbai City FC would face a tough challenge from Bengaluru FC when the two teams square off in the Indian Super League, which has resumed after over a month-long break, in Mumbai on Sunday.
The break was due to India’s campaign at the AFC Asian Cup.
But with the country’s campaign having ended in the group stage itself, the league has already resumed from Friday.
Presently, both Mumbai and Bengaluru are in line to make it to the last four in the ISL and a win will only bolster their chances.
Bengaluru are in the top spot with 27 points while Mumbai are in the second position with 24 points.
Mumbai, who are yet to win the coveted title, had been in good form under their new coach Jorge Costa before the break and had won their last game on December 16 when they hammered Kerala Blasters 6-1.
Mumbai’s biggest asset has been their mid-fielder Modou Sougou, who has scored nine goals and has been their highest goal-scorer.
He pumped in four goals against the Blasters and would be keen to continue from where he left off.
The Senegalese, along with Arnold Issako of Congo, who has five assists to his credit, form a lethal pair posing danger to any defence and Bengaluru’s would be no exception.
Mumbai also possess fine strikers like Brazilian Rafael Bastos and an array of mid-fielders including Sougou, Raynier Fernandes, Portugal’s Paulo Machado and Matias Mirabaje.
Meanwhile, Costa would also be hoping that Amrinder Singh, the experienced custodian, would be able to maintain a clean sheet.
With experienced Issako, Romanian Lucian Goain, Davinder Singh and Subhasish Bose to man it, Mumbai also have a strong defence.
On the other hand, Bengaluru will have their hopes pinned on star striker Sunil Chhetri, who has so far netted five goals in the season and will take the field for the first time after being announced as the recipient of the coveted Padma Shri.
If Chhetri, fellow-India teammate Udanta Singh and the redoubtable Miku fire in unison in the Bengaluru forward line, then Amrinder will have a hard time under the host team’s bar.
Equally important will be the role of BFC’s India custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who has a vast experience to stop the likes of Sougou, but he needs to be at his best.
Overall, the spectators at Andheri’s Mumbai Football Arena can expect an enthralling contest.