ISL 2023-24: Mumbai City FC's coach Des Buckingham praises players' character in 2-2 draw against Odisha FC
Mumbai City FC's head coach Des Buckingham praises his team's character in a hard-fought 2-2 draw against Odisha FC in the ISL 2023-24, highlighting squad rotation and the impact of substitute players.
Des Buckingham, the head coach of Mumbai City FC, praised his team's resilience and determination as they secured a valuable point in a thrilling 2-2 draw against Odisha FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 clash at Bhubaneswar's Kalinga Stadium on Thursday. Despite falling behind to Odisha FC following Jerry Mawihmingthanga's first-half goal, Mumbai City FC managed to level the score thanks to Rostyn Griffiths. Odisha regained the lead when substitute Roy Krishna converted a penalty, but Jorge Diaz struck late to salvage an important point for Mumbai City FC. Buckingham described the match as exciting, especially since both teams favored similar styles of play.
In a pre-match press conference, Buckingham reflected on the game, stating, "It was a good game, (especially) when you get two teams who try to play football in a very similar manner. We knew the football Sergio (Lobera) likes to play. I don't know what it made for TV back home, but from the sidelines, I thought it was quite an exciting game." Buckingham also highlighted the team's strong start to the season, with four points from six away from home.
Buckingham made two changes to the starting eleven compared to their previous victory against NorthEast United FC, with Vinit Rai and Tiri coming in for Yoell van Nieff and the injured Mehtab Singh. Van Nieff was on the bench, and Singh was not included in the squad due to an injury sustained in the ISL opener. Buckingham explained the squad rotation, emphasizing the players' understanding of the team's style of play despite the changes.
The English coach also praised the impact of substitute players, including Vikram Partap Singh and Abdenasser El Khayati. Singh, in particular, provided the crucial assist for Diaz's late equalizer, adding speed and energy to Mumbai City FC's attack. Buckingham expressed satisfaction with the contributions of these players and their positive impact on the team.
“Even the guys that came on, El Khayati got some more minutes, so we’re building him up slowly (to full fitness). And then the impact Vikram had again since coming on. He more than showed his worth and he’s been pushing for a start. He has pushed extremely hard for an inclusion in our starting eleven for the next game. So I'm very happy with him. And of course, Diaz, arriving at the end of an excellent cross, so I’m happy for him. So a lot of good positive takeaways,” Buckingham added.