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THE HOSTS GEAR UP | AFC Champions League: Mumbai City to end campaign against PFC Navbahor Namangan (preview)

IANS | Updated on Monday, December 04, 2023 10:36 AM IST
AFC Champions League: Mumbai City to end campaign against PFC Navbahor Namangan (preview)

PUNE: A busy month kicks off for Mumbai City as the hosts gear up for the final game of Group D of the 2023-24 AFC Champions League when they take on Uzbek side PFC Navbahor Namangan at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here on Monday.

Mumbai City had travelled to Iran in challenging conditions with an all-Indian squad to take on Nassaji Mazandaran in the penultimate group stage game.

An early blinder from Mohammed Reza Azadi and an unfortunate own goal from young Halen Nongtdu set the Islanders back early on. The hosts went down to 10 men in the second half as Mumbai City kept piling on the pressure but could not break down the Iranian’s resolute defence.

A 2-0 loss on the road meant Mumbai City have five losses on the trot and will play for pride in Group D in Monday’s outing against Navbahor.

PFC Navbahor Namangan have enjoyed their maiden AFC Champions League campaign with a neck-to-neck battle for the top spot in Group D. The Uzbek side hosted the four-time AFCCL winners on matchday 5 as the two sides were locked on the same points at the top of the table.

However, Al Hilal got the best of the hosts as goals from Malcom and Salem Al Dawsari helped their side to a 2-0 win to open up a three-point gap at the top of Group D.

With the Islanders set to play one final time in the 2023-24 AFC Champions League, coach Anthony Fernandes addressed the media in Pune and highlighted his side’s intention to finish their continental campaign on a positive note.

“We would like to finish our campaign on a positive note. Even in the last two training sessions, the positivity and eagerness to play this match is as high as in any other match. We need to get into that winning momentum going into the ISL games,” said Fernandes.

Lallianzuala Chhangte accompanied Fernandes to the customary pre-match media briefing and echoed the importance of the final ACL challenge.

“I think it's an important game, it will be a challenging game, but we approach this game very seriously because we want to win this game. Since the last few days, we have been doing everything possible to do well in this game and the preparation is well and the atmosphere in the team is very good and we are ready to go give our best,” said the Islanders’ forward.

Going into the match, Mumbai City got a boost as they will welcome back JPD and Mehtab who return from suspension as the Islanders reported their full squad available for selection.

PFC Navbahor will be without the services of defenders Filip Ivanović and Ibrokhim Yuldoshev who serve suspensions.