Indian Super League club Mumbai City FC's defender Mandar Rao Dessai is cautiously optimistic ahead of the beginning of his team's AFC Champions League campaign on April 8, 2022.
Mumbai City FC will face Saudi Arabian club Al-Shabab in Riyadh as they begin their adventure in Asia after an underwhelming ISL season as defending champions saw them end on fifth spot in the league table.
However, the whole squad is now focused on the AFC Champions League.
Dessai spoke at a press conference ahead of his team's clash against Al-Shabab.
As revealed by ISL media, on being asked about evaluating the recently finished 2021-22 ISL season and whether he achieved his personal objectives, Dessai said, "Yes, whenever we start a season, you know, we always expect to give our best throughout the season. We want our team to perform well and help the team to win games.
"I think that’s the most important thing for me. Whenever I get my chance, I think I have given my best and that has always been my goal. In the AFC Champions League also, I have the same goals."
Dessai was then asked about the difference in mentality in preparing for ISL games compared to AFC Champions League games and he said, "Yeah, it is completely different from our league games. This is at a different level, it is the Champions League. The quality is better and I think we have to prepare in a different way. All the players are excited and just waiting for the first game, so that we can do better."
As vice-captain of the Islanders, Dessai also has a role to mould youngsters in the squad and while speaking about them, he said, "The young players are very excited to play, to give their best. The most important thing is that they want to learn new things, they want to listen, not only to me but all the senior players. And all of us guide them, so that they have more confidence.
"Even when they make mistakes, we try to encourage them. In this competition we might not have major ball possession, but we need to give confidence to the youngsters so that they can help us."
Mumbai City FC take on Al-Shabab on April 8, 2021 at 10:45 Indian Standard Time in their opening group clash.