The drum rolls can be heard, the countdown has begun and the buzz is sprucing up nicely. The Indian Super League (ISL) 2015 will start in four days. The teams are sweating it out on the fields ahead of the start of the start-studded tournament and so are Mumbai City FC players.
Mumbai City FC have donned a new look for the upcoming edition of the ISL. Not only they have made some changes to their jersey, they have added some heavy reinforcements to their side.
Nicolas Anelka will continue with the Ranbir Kapoor co-owned franchise for the second season but this year he has an added responsibility of being the coach as well. Anelka will not only be their marquee player but also their manager for ISL 2015.
Indian superstar Sunil Chhetri has also been roped in during the auctions and Ranbir should consider himself to be lucky enough to pick him up at his base price. But Anelka, Chhetri and Andre Moritz, who was their star player in the previous season, will definitely add more solidity in the attacking line.
"We didn't have the team ready, we didn't know the tactics (last season). I am really confident (this season). We kept the key players from last year and now we have arrived here 45 days before the league started. We had time for a proper pre-season and proper training," Moritz told media ahead of the start of the ISL 2015.
Last season, they were pretty much unbalanced and their opponents spotted their weaknesses rather easily. They did have a number of chances to make it to the last four of the ISL 2014 but they failed every time by pulling out draws and incurring losses.
Mumbai City FC have had a decent pre-season training in Dubai and United Arab Emirates (UAE). Anelka made it sure that the players gel well with each other and acclimatise themselves with the hot and humid conditions in which they will be playing (as Dubai too sports similar kind of weather). They played three practice matches against Al Shabab FC, Emirates Club and Air India and managed to win all of them.
Mumbai City FC 2-1 Al Shabab FC
Mumbai City FC 1-0 Emirates Club
Mumbai City FC 7-0 Air India
Nicolas Anelka, Andre Moritz and Sony Norde (Foreigners): Anelka have truckloads of experience with him and he will be looking forward to implement them in ISL 2015. Moritz on the other hand, was their star attraction from ISL 2014, and quite aptly, he has been retained by the franchise. Norde, who plays for I-League side Mohun Bagan AC, knows the Indian conditions well and recently bagged the FPAI International Player of the Year. Norde also scored a hat-trick against Air India in the warm-up game.
Sunil Chhetri (Indian): Chhetri will have to lead the attacking line for Mumbai City FC most of the time as Anelka may not feature regularly. He is an opportunist in front of the goal and is well known for his finishing abilities. He could not manage to play in the ISL 2014 because of his Bengaluru FC duties but this year he is back after scoring 11 goals for his I-League side in the last season.
Mumbai City FC Full Squad:
Coach: Marco Materazzi.
Goalkeepers : Subrata Paul, 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.
First home game: 16 October: Mumbai City FC vs Chennaiyin FC at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
First away game: 5 October: Mumbai City FC vs FC Pune City at Balewadi Stadium in Pune.