New Delhi: The Ambedkar Stadium stays ONGC's fortress and coach Santosh Kashyap, the bandmaster. From whipping boys to giants at home, ONGC have undergone a transformation with Kashyap waving his magic wand since taking up the reins last December.
Under Kashyap, ONGC have lost only twice, against Mohun Bagan (away) and Pune FC at home. They have won seven matches and drawn five. And Saturday, they will play their last home match of the I-League 2012/13 against Mumbai FC at the Ambedkar Stadium.
"The game against Mumbai FC is of huge importance to us. Our aim was to finish in the top seven. The loss to Pune FC meant we had to go down in the table. So a win will once again bring our campaign back on track," Kashyap said. "This being our last Home match, I am hoping for a good display," he added. He further pointed out that the mid-table battle is very close with virtually nothing separating four clubs.
"Salgaocar, Sporting Clube de Goa, Mumbai FC and ONGC have nothing separating them. Anyone of them can finish sixth. So we will go all out," he quipped. In their own backyard, ONGC have kept table-toppers Churchill Brothers at bay apart from getting the better of second-placed East Bengal, defending champions Dempo SC and Salgaocar, amongst others.
"The irony stays that we face several injury problems," Kashyap said. "Against Pune FC, we had several key players missing. The likes of Robin (Gurung), Kenistan, Bimal (Minz) will miss the tie. Sandeep Sanga is also out after picking up a knock in the last game." Looking back, Kashyap added: "When I joined in December, the team looked in tatters, especially in the attacking third. I focussed on improving the aspect. The boys responded in style. In such a short span, the way they adapted was incredible. They deserve all the credit."
Mumbai FC, on the other hand, will be looking to enjoy the game and 'go with the flow'. "With two matches to go, we have nothing to aim at. We have saved relegation and have played decent enough. At present, we are preparing for the next season. We will field some youngsters in our remaining two matches," Mumbai FC Coach Khalid Jamil said. Both the teams have 30 points from 24 matches.