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After finishing sixth in the I-League last season with just five victories from 20 games, Mumbai FC have their task cut out for the upcoming season starting on January 9. Eager to start the season on a promising note is coach Khalid Jamil who ensured he signed the right players, saying he says he’s satisfied with his squad.
“We’ve signed many players. We had to let many go. We worked very hard on finding the right balance. For the first time in so many years (he’s been coach since 2009), I can confidently say that we have an excellent team and that I’m satisfied with the squad” Jamil said during the kit launch at the Cooperage Stadium here on Monday.
The only team in the I-League from the city have boosted up their defence by signing North Korean Min Chol Sol from Shillong Lajong. Liberian Eric Brown was signed as replacement for striker Josimar Martins.
They have an impressive midfield lineup too. After signing veteran Arata Izumi from the now defunct Pune FC, they’ve roped in former India international Steven Dias. Their best deal though was retaining Taisuke Matasugae, who was in delightful form last season. The Japanese will also shoulder the added responsibility of captaining the club for this season.
Taisuke said that it won’t be additional pressure for him as he’s always been the player who guides the team. “Even last year, I tried to help out the youngsters. I’ve shown them how to stay fit. I told them how they can improve. I think that is the job of a captain. So no, it’s not a burden for me,” he told dna.
The midfield maestro further said that it’s the players who haven’t played in the ISL that will be important for their teams, at least in the opening few games of the tournaments.
“One needs to be 100% fit to play in the league. Right now, few players are still tired because of the ISL. So players who weren’t part of that tournament (ISL) will have to give more than their best for the first few games,” he said.
Japanese-born Indian Arata Izumi said the team is quite balanced. “I cannot say much because I’ve joined only a week ago. But I can say that from what I’ve seen in training, we have a good team. A team that can fight it out with the big boys of Indian football (re: Mohun Bagan, East Bengal and Bengaluru FC). The youngsters in the squad will have to grow up quickly,” said Izumi, who played for Mahindra United between 2007-09.
Mumbai FC start off their campaign against Shillon Lajong in Guwahati on January 10.