Pune (Maharashtra) [India], September 18 (ANI): Mumbai City FC will be up against Iranian side FC Nassaji Mazandaran in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Champions League 2023 group stage clash at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Pune on Monday.
A win for either side will amplify their chances of qualifying for the next round of the tournament. Mumbai City FC played in the ACL in the 2022 season and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the knockout rounds after finishing second in the group stage. FC Nassaji Mazandaran on the other hand are playing in the ACL for the first time after they won the Hafzi Cup, the annual cup competition in Iran.
Form Guide-Mumbai City FC- Win, Win, Win, Loss in last four matchesMumbai City FC played well in the recently concluded Durand Cup and reached the quarter-final, only to lose out to eventual champions Mohun Bagan Super Giant. They also performed well in the previous edition of the AFC Champions League with two wins one draw and three losses, becoming the Indian club with the highest-ever points tally in the AFC Champions League group stage. In their last four matches, the Islanders have won three and lost one match.
-FC Nassaji Mazandaran-Draw, Draw, Loss, Win in last four matchesFC Nassaji Mazandaran has had a shaky start to the Persian Gulf Pro League 2023 season. They qualified for the ACL last season after winning the Hafzi Cup last season. This fixture marks their debut in the AFC Champions League. They have drawn two, lost one and won one out of their last 4 games.
Key Players-Mumbai City FCYoel Van Nieff: With a wealth of experience in European football, Van Nieff's addition stabilises the defensive midfield position for the team after the departure of the Moroccan maestro Ahmed Jahouh to fellow Indian Super League (ISL) club Odisha FC. His addition adds much-needed balance and more protection to the backline of Mumbai City FC. The Dutch midfielder would want to prove his mettle in the biggest stage of Asia this season.
Lallinzuala Chhangte: The winger put up some incredible performances for Mumbai City FC in the 2022-23 season. He won the Hero of the League award last season. With some good performances for Mumbai City FC in the 2022 ACL season, Chhangte would want to continue his fine form again in the 2023 ACL season.
Opponent watchFC Nassaji Mazandaran-HistoryNassaji is the oldest club in the Caspian region of Iran and one of the oldest in all of Iran. They entered the Azadegan League in 1991 and stayed in the division till 1995. They faced a shaky path moving back and forth from the second and third divisions of Iran before finally getting promoted to the Persian Gulf Pro League, the Iranian first division league.
-Key PlayersFarshad Esmaeili: The 29-year-old midfielder has had a pretty solid start to the new season. The 3-5-2 shape helps him play as the most advanced midfielder in the team. He has contributed to two goals in four games already this season. He will hope to have a positive impact on his side's ACL debut this season.
Mohammad Reza Azadi: The 23-year-old joined FC Nassaji from Aluminum Arak this season. He scored seven goals in 29 league appearances last season. He will hope to help his team have a positive mark in the 2023 ACL season.
-Head CoachFC Nassaji Mazandaran are coached by Mehdi Rahmati who was considered as one of the best goalkeepers to ever play for the Iranian National team. The four-time Iran Pro League champion transitioned into a coaching role after retiring in 2020. He had short stints at Padideh and Aluminum Arak before taking charge of FC Nassaji Mazandaran earlier this summer.
Head-to-Head Record: Mumbai City FC and FC Nassaji Mazandaran have never played each other before.
Match Timings: Date: September 18, 2023Venue: Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, PuneKick-off time: 7:30 pm IST. (ANI)