The Mumbai franchisee owned by Bollywood superstar Ranbir Kapoor and Bimal Parekh was named Mumbai City FC, much like its state compatriot FC Pune City. The newly found franchisee will play in the D.Y Patil Stadium, which is being renovated, to announce the much awaited arrival of the Indian Super League. The 55,000 seater has also played home to IPL side Mumbai Indians. Mumbai which is often known for its razzmatazz surprised every contingent after it signed some of the most experienced players , in a two day Indian Super League Draft system.
Goalkeepers – Subrata Pal and Ishan Debnath
‘The Indian Spiderman’ as he is dubbed, Subrata Pal has been the armour of the Indian National Football Team. His heroics in the 2008 AFC Challenge Cup led India to success. In 2009, Paul single-handedly led India to a Nehru Cup triumph, making exquisite saves in the penalty shootout. Three years down the road in 2011, Pal made an impeccable 35 saves in the AFC Asian Cup.
In 2014, Pal signed for danish club FC Vetsjaelland, making him the fifth Indian and the first goalkeeper to ply his trade abroad. His laurels and achievements stand out, and it is quite evident that Pal is the best goalkeeper by far in the country. Signing Pal has been no less than a stroke of genius, cementing the goalkeeping Department with the Indian Spiderman. Ishan Debnath adds the depth to the position. Graduating from the famed Tata Football Academy, Debnath made his debut with Mumbai F.C, wherein he would concede 13 goals in 6 matches. He, later joined Prayag United in 2012. Still 23, Debnath has a long road ahead, however his participation and involvement with the Mumbai franchisee will most certainly develop him into a better player.
Defenders – Deepak Mondal, Peter Costa, Raju Gaikwad and Syed Nabi
On the paper, Mumbai City FC have the best defenders available, there is however the issue of depth in the defensive ranks that could hurt the club over the season. Both Raju Gaikwad and Syed Nabi have been loyal servants of the Indian National Team,with the former bagging 21 caps and the latter bagging 61. It is quite evident that these two already have some sort of chemistry that the Mumbai franchisee will look to harness. Playing as a Center Back, Raju Gaikwad is a dominating figure of the backline. His consistent performances were one of the prime reason for India to lift the 2011 SAFF Cup. A year later he would lead India to win against Cameroon’s B team. Syed Nabi on the contrary, operates as a Left Back. Known for his hard work off the ball, Nabi is one of the engines in the Indian National Team. He played vital roles in cup wins such as Nehru Cup ( 2007,2009 and 2012), AFC Challenge Cup(2008) and SAFF Championship (2011).In a career spreading over 15 years, Nabi has proved one of the most vital links in the line of defense for club such as East Bengal and Mohun Bagan.
The signing of Deepak Mondal and Peter Costa add another level of experience, both are known for their high work rate and long diagonal balls. These two collectively have more than 20 years of experience. The signing of these players have provided loads of experience in an already experienced class.
Midfielders – Asif Kottayil, Lalrindika Ralte, Ram Malik and Rohit Mirza
The midfield lacks the experience needed, with only Asif Kottayil providing the needed, Instead it is built around ‘legs’ and hard work provided by Ralte, Malik and Mirza. Still only in their early twenties, Ram Malik, Rohit Mirza and Lalrindika Ralte have a lot to improvise on. Ralte has been an inspiration for his club sides. Operating as a left side midfielder, Ralte has bagged over 90 appearances for clubs such as East Bengal and Churchill Brothers, scoring an impressive 25 goals in the process. His heroics have also led him bag 12 caps with the National Team.
A mix of experience and youth, perhaps Ralte can be the all important link between the experienced Asif Kottayil and the less Ram Malik and Rohit Mirza. In a career spread over eight years, Asif Kottayil has played for clubs such as Chirag United and Prayag United. Known for his craftiness with the ball, Kottayil has been instrumental for his club sides.
Forwards – Lalrin Fela, Nadong Bhutia, Subhash Singh and Shushil Kumar Singh
Perhaps, the Line of attack is the chink in the armour of the Mumabai based side. Lalrin Fela, Nadong Bhutia and Shushil Kumar Singh are not known for their goal scoring prowess. Fela and Bhutia are still in their early twenties have no experience of leading the line. Shushil however, can score his set of goals but is not known as an out an out striker, capable of providing 10-15 goals in a season. The responsibility of attack lies on the shoulders of Subhash Singh. Only 24, Subhash is known for his finishing skills, scoring 17 times in 55 appearances for Pune FC. It is no rocket science, the the weakest link is the attack and the franchisee should treat this wound seriously, if it is to pose as serious challenge to heavy weights such as Atletico de Kolkata.
With a marquee coach and a marquee player still eluding the franchisee, it can be hard to say what they plan next. Perhaps, they should focus on buying experienced forwards in the upcoming foreign Drafts and strengthen their offense. The strength of the Mumbai contingent lies in the defense, players such as Subrata Pal and Syed Nabi have proven instrumental time and time again. The existing chemistry between the Indian Nationals could be harnessed and very well be turned into a defensive juggernaut. If led with proper planning, this Mumbai side could very well aim to upset some of the heavy weights and even pose a serious title threat in the league.