Mumbai City FC are the only team in the Indian Super League (ISL) who predominantly field a single foreign defender, namely Lucian Goian, in their back-line.
Fellow centre-back Marko Klisura has only played 84 minutes this season in their opening day defeat to Jamshedpur FC at home and since then, Jorge Costa has opted to use Indians to form his defensive core.
The likes of Subashish Bose, Joyner Lourenco and Souvik Chakrabarti have excelled in their roles with Goian leading the pack.
An injury to Davinder Singh in one of the pre-season games against Real Kashmir saw the club management do well to rope in Lourenco who has been a revelation to say the least. The Goan centre-back didn’t get a single minute last season at Bengaluru FC but he has shown his quality and certainly performed beyond expectations. Since his addition to the Mumbai squad, in their last six matches, they have only leaked in a mere two goals.
In their 10 matches, their defence has been breached only on four occasions with FC Goa thumping five in a single game. Costa used Bose as a centre-back in their first four matches and since the defeat to Goa where the India international was at his atrocious best, the former AEL Limassol coach moved him to left-back position.
It is no surprise that Bose has performed well in what is his natural position.
Although Jamshedpur FC too have only used Tiri at the back so to say, it is a case of not having an option rather than choice. Given their struggles at the back, Cesar Ferrando would have surely loved to have signed another foreign centre-back to compliment Tiri given the dearth of quality defenders at his disposal.
FC Goa and Kerala Blasters too have one foreign centre-back on most occasions but they have utilized Carlos Pena (over 400 minutes) and Cyril Kali (over 500 minutes) in full-back roles respectively.
Mumbai, along with NorthEast United, are the only two sides who haven’t used an Indian striker in the ISL this season. Costa has trusted his foreign contingent in attack and used his Indian players primarily to work on the defensive aspect. If you look at the ISL statistics, Indian players in attack haven’t been clinical with the sole exception of Sunil Chhetri.
Costa has instilled a fighting spirit in the Mumbai squad which has been carefully put together. His shrewd foreign signings have been value for money and have helped him devise his style of play.
After an initial hiccup, the team has gelled together and put in resolute performances like the one we witnessed on Thursday against Chennaiyin FC. The Islanders look a good bet for the play-off spots if they can continue this upturn in form.