Having finished second from the bottom in the inaugural edition of the Indian Super League, Mumbai City FC will look to dish out an improved performance in the second edition under the tutelage of coach Nicolas Anelka who will also be the marquee player of the franchise.
The franchise co-owned by Ranbir Kapoor made important acquisitions in the domestic player auctions and drafts where they roped in Indian National Football team skipper Sunil Chhetri, and played a pre-season in Dubai to prepare for the season ahead.
Goalkeepers – Subrata Pal, Debjit Majumder, Albino Gomes
Mumbai City FC’ s goalkeeping department is led by national team custodian Subrata Pal who kept 6 clean sheets last season for Mumbai City FC. Pal has been a regular face in the national team over the last few years and would be looking to do justice to his reputation in this season. Debjit Majumder who played a key role in Mohun Bagan’s I League triumph earlier in the year would give a stiff competition to Subrata Pal for the spot in the starting eleven and this competition augurs well for Mumbai City FC. Debjit earned a lot of praise for his performances for Mohun Bagan last season especially the standaout performance he gave against East Bengal in the derby that Mohun Bagan went on to win by a solitary goal. Albino Gomes who has come through the youth system at Salgaocar is a highly rated youngster and is the third custodian in the Mumbai team.
Defenders – Frantz Bertin, Ashutosh Mehta, Darren O’Dea, Keegan Pereira, Pavel A?movA?, Kingshuk Debnath, Aitor FernA?ndez LA?pez, Rowilson Rodrigues, Lalchhuanmawia Fanai,
Mumbai City FC’ s defence will be led by 28-year-old Irish international Darren O’Dea who has featured in 20 international matches for Ireland. Having played for Leeds, Reading and Celtic in Europe, O’Dea brings much needed international experience to the team which leaked in the maximum number of goals in the first season. Pavel A?movA?, who played 13 of the 14 matches for Mumbai City FC last season, has been retained by the franchise. The Czech defender played youth football for his country and at 6 feet 2 inches, he is expected to prove handy for the team. Haitian international Frantz Bertin, who started his career with FC Red Star Saint-Ouen and finished his formation in Italy with Juventus FC is another central defender in the team. The 32-year-old has 39 international caps to his name and has been signed from Greek club Aiginiakos F.C. Bertin featured for Haiti at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States and made his international debut in the national team’s final group stage game against Canada. 29-year-old Spanish right-back Aitor FernA?ndez LA?pez is the fourth foreign defender in the team.
Mumbai City FC have a solid Indian contingent in the back-four featuring the left back duo of Keegan Pereira and Lalchhuanmawia Fanai, both of whom were with Bengaluru FC last season. Mawia broke into the national team on the back of an impressive season with Bengaluru despite being released in a couple of months. Keegan is a talented player and will be an asset for the side. Ashutosh Mehta, belived to be on his way to Mohun Bagan, is expected to start on the right side of the defence though he is also capable of playing as a right midfielder. Dempo’ s central defender Rowilson Rodrigues and Mohun Bagan’ s Kingshuk Debnath complete the defensive line-up for the team.
Midfielders – Juan Aguilera, Cristian Bustos, Selim Benachour, Pratesh Shirodkar, Andre Moritz, Brandon Fernandes, Gabriel Fernandes, Lalrindika Ralte, Sampath Kuttymani
Mumbai City FC’ s midfield will be led by Brazilian attacking midfielder Andre Moritz who became a fan favourite last season in the seven games he played for the team. The Brazilian netted a hat-trick against FC Pune City and in addition notched up a couple of assists. Tunisian play-maker Selim Benachour who repersented his country in the 2012 FIFA World Cup is likely to accompany Moritz in the heart of Mumbai City FC midfield. Benachour is well known for his passing and vision and has played in the Europa League for Cypriot club APOEL with whom he went to win the Cypriot League, the Cypriot Cup and the Cypriot Super Cup. Cristian Bustos, signed from Spanish club Mallorca, is the defensive midfielder in the team. The tough tackler Spaniard brings in the vital experience of having played in La Liga. 30 year old Spaniard Juan Aguilera is another box to box midfielder in the team and with the matches scheduled at a brisk pace, he could play a key role in the campaign.
Bradon Fernandes, who played a key role in Sporting Club de Goa’ s I League revival last season leads the list of Indian midfielders. The Goan midfielder who has had training stints with some European clubs will look to excel in the Indian Super League and stake his claim for a national team berth. Equally adept on playing on either wings, Gabriel Fernandes has joined the Mumbai based side after he was overlooked by FC Goa. A speedy winger, Gabriel can trouble the opposition defenders with his pace and trickery. Despite being injured for most part of the least season, East Bengal’ s Lalrindika Ralte is a talented player and posses a venomous left foot. Ralte will look to perform in the ISL to get back into national team reckoning. Another Sporting midfielder Pratesh Shirodkar and Mumbai FC’ s Sampath Kuttymani round off the list of midfielders.
Strikers – Fr d ric Piquionne, Sunil Chhetri, Subhash Singh, Nicolas Anelka, Sony Norde.
Mumbai City FC’ s attack is led by unarguably the most sought after player in Indian Football at the moment – national team skipper Sunil Chhetri. Chhetri has made name for himself both in I League and with the national team and after missing the inaugural edition of ISL, he would be rearing to make a mark in this edition. Wily forward Suhash Singh who has been retained from last season is the other Indian forward in the team.
Leading the foreign contingent is none other than the marquee player Nicolas Anelka. Having played for top clubs across Europe, Anelka is a top quality striker though it remains to be seen how many matches he plays given the fact that he is also the coach of the team. Sony Norde who played a monumental role in Mohun Bagan’ s I League triumph last season with his 9 goals and 13 assists is likely to be a key player in Mumbai City FC’ s campaign given that Sunil Chhetri is likely to miss matches when he is called for national team duties. The 26 year old Haitian international featured in the Haiti squad for 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup and is known for his blistering pace which he displayed for Mohun Bagan last season. Frederic Piquionne, a French striker who plays for Martinique at the international level is the other striker in the team. The 36 year old lanky striker has played for the likes AS Monaco, Lyon, Portsmouth & West Ham United in his club career and has even represented France in a friendly against Austria in 2007.
Having played for the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid, Nicolas Anelka’ s football pedigree needs no description. Anelka has represented France 69 times as a player though he has no coaching experience to show for. Anelka however was part of the managerial staff at Shanghai Shenhua in his four month stint at the Chinese club. It remains to be seen what playing style and formation does Anelka adopt at Mumbai City FC. Assisting Anelka with his knowledge of Indian Football at the franchise is former Sporitng Club de Goa coach Oscar Bruzon.
Mumbai City FC would have had a pre season camp in Dubai where the team won two practice matches against Al Shabab FC and Emirates Club. The team also defeated Air India 7-0 in its last friendly match and the players have exuded confidence of a better performance than last season where they finished second from bottom.