Mumbai, Nov 9 (IANS) Indian Super League (ISL) franchise Mumbai City FC returned from their successful pre-season camp in Spain, winning four matches, drawing two and losing one against various clubs.
Based in Valencia during their 33-day sojourn, the entire squad under the watchful eyes of their Costa Rican head coach Alexandre Guimaraes, trained, bonded and assiduously prepared for the fourth edition of the ISL, starting in Kochi from November 17.
Mumbai City FC begin their campaign against Bengaluru FC two days later at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.
"I am really happy with the way the team has shaped up," coach Alexandre Guimaraes said.
"We played well in all the games and worked on getting combinations right. We have got the team in shape for the long season ahead and I feel we all set to take it up a notch higher this time around," Guimaraes added.
Brazil's Thiago Santos, Spain's Rafa Jorda and Indian International Balwant Singh were the stars of the show, scoring two goals each.
Mumbai City FC began with a comprehensive 3-0 win over UE Gandia on October 12. Leo Costa fired in the first goal with a freekick in the 28th minute while Rafa Jorda scored a brace, both goals coming in the first half itself.
In the next game on October 15, Mumbai City overcame CD Castellon 2-1 in a thrilling clash. Achile Emana's 58th minute strike put them in the lead before Ruben Fonte equalized for Castellon four minutes later.
Thiago Santos, however, rose to the occasion to score the winner in the closing moments of the game for a satisfying victory over the Spanish third division side.
Mumbai City's victory run was halted by CD Alcoyano as they were held to a goalless draw.
The Indian players came to the party in the next game, with Balwant Singh scoring a brace and Sanju Pradhan scoring one in their 3-1 win over UD Alzira.
The fifth game against Levante UD 'B' also ended in a 2-2 draw but it was probably the trip's most significant match. The reserve team of the top flight Spanish League side began on a dominant note with Joel Rodriguez scoring in the first minute itself.
That didn't daunt MCFC as they restored parity in the 28th minute through Gerson Viera. Levante jumped ahead just three minutes later. Thiago Santos, the 22-year-old Brazilian, showed his class once again, scoring an impressive goal for a well-deserved draw.
The only loss of the trip came in the game against Elche 'B', as the spirited Mumbai City side went down 1-2.
The team, however, bounced right back to beat Torre Levante CF 1-0 to end their campaign on a positive note. An early strike by Brazilian forward Everton Santos was enough to set up the victory.