ISL: MCFC will need to re-discover sharpness

February 1, 2018



Subrata Paul has played the maximum matches consecutively among goalkeepers on show in ISL season four. He stood under the bar for 13 games, kept six clean sheets and made 34 saves to be in the running for the Golden Glove award.

Jamshedpur FC, fifth in the league table after 13 appearances, is a victory away from being among the top four. Going into the 14th round against Mumbai City FC, his former club, the India custodian will come under close scrutiny at the Mumbai Football Arena.

Gifted with extraordinary reach and reflexes, Paul is experienced enough to deliver in big matches, against big names like Balwant Singh (six goals) and Thiago Santos (five goals). MCFC is under pressure to perform at MFA — the previous outing ended in a drubbing at the hands of Bengaluru FC — and cannot afford to let the JFC goalkeeper go away with a clean sheet. Faith in his abilities from coach Steve Coppell and status as the first-choice goalkeeper appears to have fired up ambition in the 31-year-old Paul.

Coppell built his team’s defensive qualities using a mix of Indians and foreigners, among whom Spanish defender Jose Luis Arroya (nicknamed Tiri) and Brazilian midfielder Emerson Moura (Memo) played central roles. Both have featured in all 13 matches this season.

The JFC coach expressed confidence in his side and reflected on the intensely-fought game against MCFC earlier in the league. “You saw how in Jamshedpur (the result was 2-2) both teams wanted to win. The same will be true the second time.”

Mumbai City, coached by Alexandre Guimaraes into an attack-minded unit, looked impressive in the goalmouth during an away tie against FC Goa. Balwant, Thiago, Achile Emana and Everton Santos found the target in a thrilling 4-2 win against one of the most skilful line-ups this season.

For the home side, defensive lapses have proved costly and it cannot afford more lip-ups. “Jamshedpur is not a team which concedes too many goals. We have to be very accurate to convert the chances and our defence has to be very alert. Every detail can make the difference.”

The home team, sixth in the standings and chasing three points, is expected to be at full strength for a must-win tie.

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