Mumbai City FC head coach, Des Buckingham has reiterated that Indian Super League (ISL) clubs must continue producing positive results in top-level Asian competitions in order to show progress for Indian football.
Buckhingham led Mumbai City to a historic 2022 AFC Champions League campaign, where the Islanders won two games, to become the most successful Indian club in the competition with seven points, four more than FC Goa who were the first-ever Indian team to compete in the AFC Champions League group stages.
Despite finishing second in Group B, Mumbai failed to qualify for the knockout stage, with the 37-year-old admitting that there should be more participation of Indian clubs in order to show progress of the country in Asia.
“There was FC Goa who came in before us and picked up three draws, we came in and picked up two wins and a draw to give us seven points. I think it’s important whoever comes in next year continues to show the progress of the league because I don’t think there were many groups across East (Zone) and West (Zone) where one team got heavily beaten consistently,” he said as quoted by ISL’s official website.
“For us, we have not only shown that we can compete but also beat them at this level. The more opportunities we get, whether it’s Indian football or Mumbai City FC, I’d like to think that we can continue to show that we can.”
“I think it’s huge (to participate in AFC competitions), as a player and as a coach you want to compete against the best, and at the club level, it’s the AFC Champions League (ACL). We have the I-League back in India, now we have the Indian Super League (ISL), which provides the opportunity for development of professional players, which will be in its eighth season,” Buckingham concluded.
Buckingham will be hoping that his side build on and learn from their performances in the AFC Champions League ahead of the upcoming ISL season and improve on their fifth place finish from the 2021/22 campaign.