With their coach Alexandre Guimaraes boasting plenty of experience in the Indian Super League (ISL), Mumbai City FC will have an advantage over most other teams in the fray when the 2017-18 season of the lucrative football tournament starts later this week.
If you count out Alberto Roca at ISL debutants Bengaluru FC and Jamshedpur FC's Steve Coppell, who has now joined a new team from last season, Guimaraes is the only coach to have a second stint at an ISL club.
The Costa Rican coach guided Mumbai City FC to their best finish last season when he took them to the semi-finals. With a little bit of discipline, they could have even made it to the final but lost against eventual champions ATK.
Mumbai City had a fantastic record in the last edition. They topped the table during the league stage and conceded just 11 goals last season, three of which came in the disastrous semi-final clash against ATK.
Hence it came as no surprise when Mumbai City reposed their faith in Guimaraes again as they look to do better than last season.
"Continuity is the key. Moreover, there is a fantastic relationship between myself and the Mumbai City FC board. They know me, they know the plans that I have been proposing in pre-season this time around and, most importantly, given last season performance, there is a trust," Guimaraes said.
Not just with the man in charge, Mumbai City have also shown faith in the men who took them to the semi-final last year as well. Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh has been retained, while Lucian Goian and Gerson Veira will continue to provide defensive solidity.
In midfield, Leo Costa and Sehnaj Singh have got the vote of confidence from their coach, making them one of the strong contenders for the title.
"I think that this year, we are more balanced in different positions than last season. Maintaining a balance was one of our key objectives at the draft and we're pleased to have achieved that, along with a host of great foreign signings. And for me, I believe that our balance will be our biggest strength in the season ahead," the Mumbai City coach said.
Like the coach said, balance is the key word for Mumbai City. In the goalkeeping department for example, they have enough firepower as Amrinder Singh and Arindam Bhattacharya are among the best in business in India. Even Kunal Sawant, their third goalkeeper, has been around for a while and has proved himself.
In defence, Lucian Goian and Gerson Veira combined so effectively last season that rival teams found it difficult to break through. They will be at the heart of Mumbai's efforts to keep clean sheets again, while Achille Emana, who was once on the shopping list of French giants Olympique de Marseille and Lyon, can provide the cutting edge.
"Our pre-season was extremely fruitful. Like I mentioned, the continuity helps -- with the players and with the staff as well. We faced some quality opposition in friendlies. The conditions were good and the facilities were top-notch. The players are satisfied and well prepared and our choice of conducting our pre-season camp in Spain has definitely worked," Guimaraes said.
When Mumbai City start their campaign at Bengaluru FC on Sunday, we will know whether they will set the pace again like last season. With Guimaraes in charge, you cannot rule that out.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)