NEW DELHI: Bottom of the table Odisha FC can act as party poopers when they take on Mumbai City FC at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim on Wednesday. The Islanders need a win to keep their hopes alive of clinching the League Winners Shield.
Sergio Lobera's side are currently second with 34 points from 18 games. They need to win their remaining two fixtures to get that crucial AFC Champions League slot. Odisha have not had the best of seasons, languishing in last place with nine points from 18 games but they could do ATK Mohun Bagan a huge favour if they dash Mumbai's hopes right at the death.
Mumbai were the first to qualify for the playoffs and at that stage, it seemed certain that they would be finishing on top. But a run which includes just one win in their last six games has meant that the City Football Group co-owned club have suddenly lost steam right at the crucial moment.
"I think the most important thing for us is to be loyal to our style of play. Now it's not the moment for playing in a different way. We need to increase our level to play in our style of play because finally, we are strong in this way. For me, the second game does not exist now. Obviously, we need to improve our performance. If we want to win the game, playing as we did in the last game, it's impossible to win. The focus is on ourselves and we need to improve at both ends of the pitch," Lobera explained.
Meanwhile, Steven Dias will take charge of Odisha FC after interim manager Gerald Peyton left the club for personal reasons. And even though the season was a poor one, the former India international wants to give a few youngsters a run out to see who is able to grab this opportunity.
"We have really good young players. From the start of the season, I thought that we have a very balanced team but we have been so unfortunate because we didn't get many chances to try all the players. At the beginning of the season, Thoiba and Saurabh played in the central midfield but after one or two results coach Stuart didn't get much of a chance to put (those) Indian players but they are very talented. I've seen them in training and they are going to be very good in future. I'm trying to give a few young players a chance because I always feel that you can change your career (even) in one match. So I always tell the players, 'if you get a chance, prove yourself," he stated.