Desperate to snap a four-game winless run, Odisha FC will face their sternest test yet when they play defending champions Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League in Vasco, Goa on Monday. (More Football News)
Odisha suffered a heavy defeat to Hyderabad FC in their last outing, underlining their drop in form since the first few games when they looked very good.
The Kiko Ramirez-coached side have been poor defensively, conceding 20 goals in eight games this season, the worst record so far.
In the 2020-21 season, Odisha ended with the worst defensive record in ISL, conceding 44 goals in 20 matches with just one clean sheet.
"There are some moments where we made individual mistakes and that cost us the game. But we cannot blame anyone," assistant coach Kino Garcia said at the pre-match press conference.
"The coaching staff will take the responsibility first and then the players. We will keep trying to find a solution and we are confident of getting better."
On Mumbai, he added: "Mumbai are league leaders and they are a strong team. We have done our homework and we will be ready."
Ramirez remains suspended for the game for accumulating his second caution from the bench in the last match.
For Mumbai, it will be about consolidating their lead at the top of the heap after dropping points in the last two matches.
The Islanders lost to Kerala Blasters FC and drew with NorthEast United FC in a high-scoring game, allowing teams like Hyderabad FC and ATK Mohun Bagan to close the gap on them.
Mumbai have been a first-half team so far. Sixty per cent of the goals scored by them have come in the first period. No team has scored more goals than Mumbai City (12) in the first half of games this season.
But what will concern coach Des Buckingham is their struggles in the second half.
Mumbai have conceded nine of their 13 goals in the second half of the matches. Seven of the nine goals conceded in the second half of games have come in a 15-minute span between the 45th and 60th minute. No team has conceded more goals in this 15-minute span.
"We need to make sure defensively we are well placed as well. That's what we have been training on in the last few games. We want to continue playing attacking football but we need to be good defensively as well," Buckingham said.
Meanwhile, Bipin Singh is having a great season so far with three goals and two assists.
His five-goal contributions are the second-highest among Indian players after Liston Colaco (5 goals + 1 assist) this season. Igor Angulo has also been in cracking form, netting seven goals already along with two assists.
Mumbai have two wins and two losses from their four matches against Odisha.