• Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Mohun Bagan Super Giant or Mumbai City FC who will became champion of Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24

Celebrating of the culmination of the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season, anticipation is peaking as rivals Mohun Bagan Super Giant and Mumbai City FC lock horns to become the ISL Cup Winners at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on May 4, Saturday, at 7:30 pm IST. Kolkata will be hosting its first-ever ISL final tomorrow and amid an electrifying excitement in the City of Joy, coaches and players from the two finalists assembled for a pre-match press conference summarizing their thoughts ahead of the summit clash of the 10th season of the ISL.

On April 15, a similar match had ensued between them at this very stadium, where the Mariners edged past the Islanders by 2-1 to dethrone Mumbai City FC and get crowned the ISL Champions. Back in 2020-21, the Mariners were defeated by Mumbai City FC by 2-1 in the ISL final, and Habas was at the receiving end of that result. Whilst avenging such outcomes are common talks in football, Habas thought process transcends that currently.

“There are no favourites for the final”

“There is no question of revenge for me. It’s one more game of football. We are playing against a very good opponent. I am very happy and excited for the final and we have to compete well to win the trophy. We have played finals in different places. But this is special, to play a final at our home in front of our own supporters,” Habas said during the press meet.

Mohun Bagan Super Giant sparked a remarkable turnaround in the second half of the season to storm towards becoming the ISL Champions, finishing the league stages with 48 points, as compared to the 47 of the Islanders. They scored 47 goals in their 22 league matches, vis-à-vis the 42 times that Mumbai City FC found the back of the net during the league matches. The home side has a thriving attacking contingent in the form of Jason Cummings, Dimitrios Petratos, Manvir Singh, and Liston Colaco, and they will all be edging to bring their A-game to the table in front of an expected 60,000 fans that will flock the stands to back them through the thick and thins of tomorrow. Yet, Habas is treading a cautious line.

“There are no favourites for the final; neither do I want to be the favourite for the final. One move from the first minute to the last one can change the trajectory of the match. We have to be concentrated. In the final, there is no point in choosing one favourite. But, our team have the supporters on the stands and that will have a huge impact on the players playing on the field. We are stronger than last season. Mumbai City FC, too, have grown a lot in this period. With good players, you need a good organisation as well to succeed. You need strong commitment from the players on the field, on that given day,” he said.

“Mumbai City FC have learnt from the previous loss”

The Mariners had almost swept aside Mumbai City FC in their title-deciding clash that drew curtains on the league stages of ISL 2023-24 in April. Their 2-1 win was as convincing as it could come, pushing an impeccable looking Islanders’ unit off balance with their fierce pace and assertion over their own style of play. Mumbai City FC head coach Petr Kratky has certainly taken some learning from that defeat, and is keen to correct them on Saturday.

“We have learnt from the previous game. We will try to start the game a little bit differently. We will play our football from the first minute. We will try to compete, and win the game. We have learnt from our first defeat and we have come here to compete, fight, and get the win,” he said today.

However, Kratky is not bogged down by the prospect of taking on the Mohun Bagan Super Giant in front of their mighty home fan base. In fact, the tactician finds it as a source of encouragement, possibly hoping to silence the crowd as a consequence of the possible heroics of his team. He is even banking on a section of the Mumbai City FC supporters who will be traveling to Kolkata to make their love known for the club ahead of the big day. It’s certain that they will be few in number as compared to the Mariners, but Kratky has assured them that their voice will be heard by the players on the pitch.

“I don’t think it’s going to be a pressure for us. Our players are all used to playing in front of full stadiums. In fact, it gives us extra motivation to do well, because that’s why we play football. We work hard for that. We can’t wait to play football, play it our way, and if we focus on winning the game, everyone will enjoy it. I don’t think there’s extra pressure here, if anything, we are going to enjoy the moment. The support of our travelling supporters is going to be very important. We love them. We play for them and we want to hear them. Keep cheering for us, but we will be hearing them. Even though they are outnumbered, we know they are there to support us and we will do our best for them,” Kratky remarked.

One individual for whom the riveting atmosphere on Saturday won’t come as a sudden surprise would certainly be Mumbai City FC skipper Rahul Bheke. The defender has had a stint with East Bengal FC previously, and has hence been a part of the famous Kolkata Derby. With emotions running high at the Salt Lake, Bheke is focused on keeping his calm and helping his players maintain their composure before the big encounter. “I have played for East Bengal FC previously, so I have been here with the fans at Salt Lake Stadium supporting me. But, this time, I will be at Mohun Bagan Super Giant, facing a huge crowd against us, and we have witnessed that already three times this season, once in the Durand Cup, and twice in the league stages. So, it’s a big moment for us. As a team, we are very prepared for the final,” Bheke said.

“Mohun Bagan Super Giant is one of the best clubs I have played for” – Petratos

For Mohun Bagan Super Giant, a big chunk of their hope for a victory in the grand finale rests on the shoulder of their dynamic striker Dimitrios Petratos. The 31-year-old Australian has notched 10 goals and garnered seven assists in 22 appearances this season. With 0.45 strikes per game and a goal conversion rate of 15.15, he is a threat in all phases of the game, right from both inside and outside of the box to from set-pieces as well. “Yes, Mohun Bagan Super Giant is one of the best clubs that I have played for in my entire career. I am really enjoying it here. The atmosphere is absolutely crazy. We hope to give back to our supporters with a win, and give them something to enjoy after winning the next game. The only thing I can do is go out there and give my best. That is what I try to do, week in, week out. It’s a part of the game, so I will just try to give my best (tomorrow),” Petratos assured the supporters.

A glance at the numbers

Mumbai City FC boast of an impressive 67% win rate and a scoring streak in each of their nine games against the Mohun Bagan Super Giant. The Islanders can never be ruled out of contests until the final whistle is blown. Their second-half proficiency is exemplified by a league-leading 28 goals in that phase of the game, which stands in a stark contrast to the Mariners’ penchant for early goals (25 in first-half of matches this season).

Mumbai City FC’s Lallianzuala Chhangte has been a standout performer with the highest xG+xA (expected goals + expected assists) value in the ongoing season (14.62). Defensively, the likes of Subhasish Bose (25 blocks and 31 assists), along with Tiri (68.9% duel success rate) and Hector Yuste (68% duel success rate) will hold the backline together for both teams. With both teams displaying strengths in varied phases of the games, players from the two sides will be eager to etch their names in the ISL history with a powerful performance in the grand finale.

( Source : ISL)

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