Mumbai FC, the only club from the city competing in the AIFF I-League football championship, has always strived to be amongst the best in the country. Keeping that in mind, Mumbai FC Head Coach, Khalid Jamil, Manager, Henry Picardo and Deputy Vice-President, Atul Badgamia along with the other managerial support staff have spared no effort in selectively, hand-picking some of the top quality Indian and foreign players, while also successfully retaining the services of several players who proved their worth with the club last season, to build a solid, stable outfit for the 2015-2016 I-League season.
The Mumbai club has managed to hold on to Japanese Taisuke Matsugae for another season. The 33-year-old Taisuke, an inspirational midfielder was the heart and soul of the team with his star performances last year. This season he will shoulder the added responsibility of leading the club as coach Jamil has put his full thrust in the Japanese by appointing him as the captain.
The team is expected to rely on their tried and trusted goalkeepers Sanjiban Ghosh and Kunal Sawant to take care of their citadel, while in defence the coach will look to new recruits, the experienced North Korean Min Chol Son and Anwar Ali. Mumbai boys Ashutosh Mehta and Allan Dias, both reliable defenders have retained their position and will be assisted by Pratik Chaudhari of Mumbai and Clyde Fernandes while left back Srikant Ramu joins the club from Pune FC.
India veteran and Mumbai hero Steven Dias has also joined the Mumbai club along with former India teammate N.P. Pradeep and Liberian Eric Brown.
The club, has also recruited a few crucial players, who all arrive from Bengaluru FC, namely, attacking midfielder Malem Meitei, Darren Caldeira, who returns to the club after his successful stint in Bengaluru FC. Forward Karan Sawhney, defensive midfielder Asif K and goalkeeper Pawan Kumar are the other new signings.
The forward line is boosted with the arrival of Japanese Ryuki Kozawa. Ryuki last plied his trade in the Polish Third Division club. Ryuki has previously played in the J-League with Tokyo and Pattaya United in the Thai Premier League. Fan favorite Jayesh Rane returns to the forwardline after a successful title winning stint in the ISL. Another big signing is the arrival of the versatile Izumi Arata on loan from Athletico de Kolkata. Mumbai boys Cletus Paul and Rohit Mirza complete the forward line. The club has also recruited Under-22 players, Hitesh Sharma and CHingkhei from Tata Football Academy.
Mumbai FC, are geared up and eager to take on Shillong Lajong in their opening fixture at Guwahati on January 10, 2016.
The club's legion of fans from the city will get to watch their team play at the Cooperage ground when Mumbai FC take on East Bengal on January 17 in the first of the club's three back-to-back home matches. Mumbai FC's next home games are against Salgaocar FC on Januray 24 and Bengaluru FC on January 27.
Coach Jamil mentioned that the preparations have all gone well and the team is in good shape. "The team is doing well and we have trained hard for this gruelling journey. All the players are fully fit and prepared to take on any opposition in this tournament. We have recently won the Nadkarni Cup, which will provides us a big boost. Wehave been doing fairly well in the MDFA Elite Division," said Jamil.
The coach was unconcerned that the club will launch their campaign in an away fixture against Lajong in their own den. "Every match, away or home, is a match. So you don't have to think too much about it. Instead we have to be mentally focused for the challenge. It gives us a chance to prove ourselves from the word go," admitted Jamil.
Mumbai FC, a leading community football club in India, is officially being supported and sponsored by PLAYWIN, the biggest lotto brand in the country.
Playwin President, Rahul Tangri said: "Football is the leading sport globally and Mumbai FC, represents the City of Mumbai in this beautiful sport and that's the reason why we are committed and associated with this Football Club. Playwin is the gaming brand of Pan India Network Ltd., part of the Essel Group and through Mumbai FC we hope to reinforce Playwin's credibility as a widespread and transparent gaming brand."