Mumbai, Sep 25 (IANS) With their hopes and aspirations dashed in the inaugural season, Mumbai City FC are approaching the second edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) with a rejuvenated side powered by several star players.
The club, owned by Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor, didn’t have a fruitful opening season where they finished second from bottom in the eight-team competition. But having bagged several quality players at this year’s auction, the team is gearing up for the new season with renewed enthusiasm.
Led and coached by French football great Nicolas Anelka, the side received extra momentum when they bagged India captain Sunil Chhetri in the Indian players auction recently.
With 50 goals to his credit at the international level, the 31-year-old Chhetri’s zeal and enthusiasm for the game is expected to make the side strong up-front.
The India skipper’s presence alongside former Chelsea forward Anelka, who is mainly in the side for his experience, will surely be a treat to watch for the fans.
The other notable player in the squad is Andre Moritz — a Brazilian of Italian and German descent. The 29-year-old holds the record for the only hat-trick in the ISL, when he netted thrice against state rivals FC Pune City in a 5-0 routing last year.
Haitian striker Sony Norde is well versed in Indian conditions after playing for reigning I-League champions Mohun Bagan for quite some time.
The side also looks well shaped up with several talented Indian players in the line-up.
From midfielders Lalrindika Ralte, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, Gabriel Fernandes to Kingshuk Debnath in defence, the boys will aim to put up the best possible show.
The side had a pre-season camp in Dubai where they played a couple of practice games.
Experienced Indian goalkeeper Subrata Pal is likely to get the nod in the starting XI ahead of his fellow countrymen Debjit Majumder and Albino Gomes.
On paper, Mumbai may not be regarded as favourites, but on their day, the side has the quality and depth to rout their opponents just like they did to FC Pune City in the first season at home.
Mumbai will play their first match against Pune in an away game on October 5.
Mumbai City FC squad:
Goalkeepers: Subrata Pal, Debjit Majumder, Albino Gomes
Defenders: Frantz Bertin, Ashutosh Mehta, Darren O’Dea, Keegan Pereira, Pavel Cmov, Kingshuk Debnath, Rowilson Rodrigues, Aitor Fernandez Lopez
Midfielders: Juan Aguilera, Cristian Bustos, Selim Benachour, Pratesh Shirodkar, Andre Moritz, Brandon Fernandes, Gabriel Fernandes, Lalrindika Ralte, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, Sampath Kuttymani
Forwards: Frederic Piquionne, Sunil Chhetri, Subhash Singh, Nicolas Anelka, Sony Norde
Head coach: Nicolas Anelka
Assistant Coach: Oscar Bruzon
(Aritra Chowdhury can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)