Pune: Mumbai FC will be up for a challenge when they host table-toppers and defending champions Dempo SC in an I-League Round 13 encounter at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi, on Sunday.
Having beaten East Bengal 2-1 in their previous game, the confidence in the Mumbai camp remains sky high and expects to put on a similar level-headed performance. Moreover, Mumbai FC will also be eyeing to maintain their top-5 position which they worked hard to earn by pushing aside the Kolkata opponents. The top-5 position in the league table is by far a first for Mumbai this season.
The home side will thus be looking to cement their top-5 position in the table. A Mumbai win coupled with a favourable result in East Bengal's game against Arrows would see the home side move up to fourth. The scenario will definitely give players the confidence when they take on the mighty Dempo.
Mumbai FC coach Khalid Jamil knows the job on hand. "Dempo is a good strong side. And we all know that Dempo has not done too well with some of the teams in this I-League. On our part we will be looking to end the year on a winning note against them."
Mumbai FC will be missing the services of midfielder Darren Caldeira who was stretchered off in the win against East Bengal. However, most of the players will be available for selection on Sunday. The coach added, "His absence will be felt owing to the back injury he sustained against East Bengal. I am hoping he recovers quickly."
Strikers ND Opara, Yusif Yakubu and Gabriel Fernandes have been in top form scoring plenty of goals. On the other hand, Abhishek Yadav proved his versatility once again when he started in the central defence against East Bengal keeping their strikers in check.
The midfield will be led by James Singh and Nicholas Rodrigues who have been ever-present in the Mumbai FC starting line-up.
The Goan opponents after being beaten by Pune FC 5-1 are slowly getting back to winning ways and come into the game after a 2-1 victory over Pailan Arrows in Kolkata in the previous round. Striker Joaquim Abranches' brace settled the tie and will be the one to keep a watch on.
The visitors are on a good run of results winning five of their last six games. However, not everything has been good for the champions as they were humiliated by Pune FC in their own backyard, beating them 5-1 in Round 11.
However, Dempo's top-scorer Ryuiji Sueoka has tormented various defences in the league and will pose a challenge for Haroon Amiri and Co. The Mumbai FC skipper has been at his best in the recent games and Khalid will hope for similar performances.
The return of playmaker Koko Sakibo from injury has boosted Armando Colaco's side. The visitors definitely missed him in the previous games and his return has strengthened the Goan's midfield.
The game will kick-off at 3 p.m. on Sunday.