Spreading the beautiful game across different regions of the country is one of the key objectives in Vision 2047, and the Federation’s plan to host the Hero Super Cup in Kerala, where both Hero ISL and Hero I-League teams will come together, is part of it. the-aiff.com is currently in Malappuram and Kozhikode and is following the progress of the clubs in the Hero Super Cup closely in a series of stories.
AIFF Media Team
MANJERI: A feisty Hero Club Playoffs affair awaits the fans when Jamshedpur FC and Mumbai City FC clash at the Payyanad Stadium in Manjeri, Kerala, on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. The winners will book their place directly into the AFC Champions League 2023-24 group stage.
The two Hero Indian Super League sides head into the clash following their Hero ISL League Winners’ Shield campaigns – Jamshedpur (2021-22) and Mumbai City FC (2022-23). The Men from the Steel Town lifted the Shield in 2022, their first-ever silverware, under the tutelage of former Head Coach Owen Coyle, after registering 13 wins and 43 points in the league season.
Meanwhile, the Islanders are coming on the back of a massive campaign where they grabbed 14 wins in 20 matches. In Des Buckingham’s second season in charge, the team went on a record 18-match unbeaten streak.
With the lone AFC Champions League group stage spot at stake, both sides will be aiming to bring out their best. Speaking ahead of the clash, Jamshedpur FC Head Coach Aidy Boothroyd quoted, "It’s great to be back. The players have been training really hard on their fitness. We’ve managed to get the players back to the physical condition they had ."
On the challenges against Mumbai City FC, Boothroyd stated, "We feel there’s a bit of unfinished business with Mumbai. It’ll be a tough game because they’re a really good team, Shield Winners, but we’re really looking forward to it."
Returning to action after a memorable season, Mumbai Head Coach Buckingham spoke about the mood in the camp. "The atmosphere in the dressing room is very good. We’ve done extremely well during the season, broken many records and have played some wonderful football."
In the recently concluded season, Jamshedpur and Mumbai City played out a 1-1 draw at the Mumbai Football Arena with Lallianzuala Chhangte and Daniel Chima Chukwu getting on the scoresheet. In the second leg, however, the Islanders got the better of Jamshedpur. The eventual "Hero of the League", Chhangte, once again found the back of the net, while Vikram Partap Singh scored the second goal to give his team a 2-1 victory.
Praising the 25-year-old winger, Buckingham said: "Chhangte will be very important for us tomorrow, whether he scores, provides an assist, or is involved in a combination play between the front five. He’d play a major part alongside many others in making sure we can be successful tomorrow."
The Islanders, who participated in the previous edition of the AFC Champions League, will be looking to take a step forward. In 2022, the team defeated Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, also known as Air Force Club, to become the first-ever Indian club to register a victory in the group stage of the competition. To make it sweeter, they recorded two wins against the Iraqi side and finished second in Group B.
The Englishman concluded his testimony by saying, "It's an opportunity for an Indian club to go and represent not just the area they're from, but Indian football on that stage. If we're able to do that again and show what Indian football can do on that stage against Asia's best, we'll be doing everything we can to try and do that."
The Hero Club Playoffs clash between Jamshedpur FC and Mumbai City FC will be telecast live on Sony Sports Network and streamed live on the FanCode app at 8:30 p.m. (IST).