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ISL 2022-23: Mumbai City FC look to increase gap at the top as they host unpredictable NorthEast United FC

The Islanders, who continue to be unbeaten in the season, confirmed their ISL 2022-23 playoff spot last week with their 11th win of the season, while the Highlanders added a point to their season tally that stands at four.

football ISL 2022-23: Mumbai City FC look to increase gap at the top as they host unpredictable NorthEast United FC snt
First Published Jan 19, 2023, 8:00 AM IST

Mumbai City FC will play NorthEast United FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday in an Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 match to move seven points clear at the top after a spirited victory on the road in Matchweek 15. 

The Islanders, who remain unbeaten this season, secured their berth in the Hero ISL playoffs last week with their 11th victory, while the Highlanders increased their season total of points, which now stands at four.

Last weekend, ATKMB managed to contain Mumbai City FC's high-flying assault, but the defence demonstrated the depth of their power. Mumbai City FC capitalised on Hyderabad FC's draw last week despite the absence of their first-choice striker and team's leading scorer this year, Jorge Diaz, thanks to the shutout. The Argentinian will be available for selection once more on Thursday after serving his suspension for receiving four yellow cards.

The Mumbai City FC players returned to the west coast after their victory in Kolkata last week, while Buckingham travelled to Guwahati and watched his next opponent draw a match against FC Goa from the stands.

"They are a very different team from the one we last played. In two of the last four games, they have picked up points against ATK Mohun Bagan and FC Goa. It will be a very different test but we will be prepared," he said.

After drawing with FC Goa, last Sunday, NorthEast United FC avoided losing for the second game this year. With four and five points behind Jamshedpur FC in tenth place, the Highlanders are still at the bottom of the standings.

Both of NorthEast United FC's goals in the game were scored by Wilmar Gil, both of whom converted penalties. Five goals have been scored by the Colombian striker in eight appearances so far. These goals have included four penalties. Kule Mbombo, a recent addition, made his debut down the left wing but was unable to contribute to the team's final goal.

After the game, Vincenzo Annese noted that his team had progressed under his leadership but needed to score quickly away from home. For the match against Mumbai City FC, he is expected to make adjustments, one of which may be required.

“The players are feeling more powerful and strong. In the next game, we will be without Jon [Gaztanaga] and we will miss his strength in the middle,” said Annese. “The attitude and prospect of the team will remain the same. It is a big opportunity to play against such a big club with so many supporters. We need to focus on ourselves and not on the results of other teams,” he added.

The two sides have met 17 times in the Hero ISL. The home side have won eight games, while the Highlanders have won five, and four games have ended in draws. In the reverse fixture earlier this season, Mumbai City FC beat NorthEast United FC 3-1 in Guwahati.

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