Image Credits: @HEROISL
Do or die for the Islanders
When Odisha FC take on Mumbai City FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Wednesday, they will be just the supporting cast in the larger drama that is playing out at the top of the Hero Indian Super League table.
With leaders ATK Mohun Bagan dropping points against Hyderabad, all eyes will be on Sergio Lobera's men to see if they can manage a win and take the race for the League Winners Shield to the final day of the season. Odisha have only pride to play for, but they can still play an important part in the larger narrative by derailing Mumbai.
Mumbai need to shake off the rut that they find themselves in. After being the best team for most of the league, the wheels have come off right at the end. Lobera's men have won just one of their last six games and are winless in their last three.
Their previous game saw them crash to a defeat to Jamshedpur FC and Lobera knows that unless the team improves, their title hopes over. "We need to improve our performance because we want to win this game," he said. "Playing like we did in the last game, it is impossible to win the game. The focus is on ourselves and we need to improve at both ends."
"We conceded a lot of chances and also goals. We did not have chances to score and we need to improve there. We played the worst game of our season and hopefully this is the past now. The most important thing is our present and our future. It was a bad day in the office and sometimes this happens. The important thing is to not repeat this," Lobera added.
Meanwhile, Steven Dias takes charge of Odisha FC after interim manager Gerald Peyton left the club for personal reasons. The former India international revealed his plan to focus on the younger players, ahead of the clash. "We have really good young players," he said. "I still think that we have a very balanced team. But, we have been so unfortunate. Starting off the season, Thoiba (Singh) and Saurabh (Meher) played in the central midfield but after one or two games even coach Stuart (Baxter) didn't get much chance to put Indian players."
"But, they are very talented, I have seen them in the training sessions. In the future, they are going to be very good players but we didn't get much chance to play some of the young players. I am trying my best to give a few young players chance if they can. I personally feel, in one match, you can change your career. I always tell the young players – prepare yourself and when you get the chance, prove yourself," Dias added.