Mumbai City FC coach Alexandre Guimaraes guided Mumbai City FC to their best finish last season in the Indian Super League (ISL) when he took them to the semi-finals. With a little bit of discipline, they could have even made it to the final but lost against eventual champions ATK.
They are looking to progressing further than the semis in the competition this ISL 2017-18. Question is can they?
Mumbai City had a fantastic record last year. They topped the table during the league stage and conceded just 11 goals last season, three of which came in the disastrous semi-final clash against ATK.
There was no surprise therefore that the ISL side reposed their faith on the Costa Rican again as they look for their first-ever ISL title this time around.
Mumbai City FC retained their key players
"Continuity is the key. Moreover, there is a fantastic relationship between myself and the Mumbai City FC board. They know me, they know the plans that I have been proposing in pre-season this time around and, most importantly, given last season performance, there is a trust," said Guimaraes.
Not just the coach, Mumbai City have shown faith in the men who took them to the semi-final last year as well. Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh has been retained, while Lucian Goian and Gerson Veira will continue to provide defensive solidity.
In midfield, Leo Costa and Sehnaj Singh have got the vote of confidence from their coach, making them one of the definite contenders for the title.
"I think that this year, we are more balanced in different positions than last season. Maintaining a balance was one of our key objectives at the draft and we're pleased to have achieved that, along with a host of great foreign signings," added Guimaraes.
"And for me, I believe that our balance will be our biggest strength in the season ahead."
Proper balance in team composition stays the mantra
Like the coach said, balance is the key word for Mumbai City. In the goalkeeping department for example, they have enough firepower if you count Amrinder Singh and Arindam Bhattacharya among the best in business in India.
Even Kunal Sawant, their third goalkeeper, has been around for a while and proved himself.
In defence, Lucian Goian and Gerson Veira combined so effectively last season that rival teams found it difficult to break through.
They will be at the heart of Mumbai's efforts to keep clean sheets again, while Achille Emana, who was once on the shopping list of French giants Olympique de Marseille and Lyon, can provide the cutting edge.
Can the preseason success transcend to the main season?
"Our pre-season was extremely fruitful. Like I mentioned, the continuity helps - with the players and with the staff as well. We faced some quality opposition in friendlies," continued Guimaraes.
"The conditions were good and the facilities were top-notch. The players are satisfied and well prepared and our choice of conducting our pre-season camp in Spain has definitely worked."
Mumbai City start their ISL 2017-18 campaign against Bengaluru FC on Sunday November 19 at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bangalore.