PUMA HAS EXTENDED its ties with Indian football by signing a deal with Mumbai City FC to become their new kit sponsor. The new Mumbai City home kit was launched today to much fanfare at an event attended by Mumbai City player-manager Nicolas Anelka, new star signing Sunil Chhetri, and old vanguards Andre Moritz and Subroto Pal. Mumbai City co-owner Ranbir Kapoor, too, was present at the launch, along with the Managing Director of Puma, Abhishek Ganguly.
The dark blue kit, with dots of red across the chest, complete with blue shorts and socks, features special fabric that helps with moisture management, can cope with a lot of rough stretching is designed for increased breathability. The shirt was unveiled with the four star players taking to the stage and showing off their skills in keepie-uppies and target shooting.
Speaking to the assembled journalists and supporters, new signing Sunil Chhetri expressed his satisfaction about the kit, pointing out that he plays in blue for all his teams: Bengaluru FC, the Indian national team, and now Mumbai City. He also shared his excitement about playing with Nicolas Anelka:
"I just had about 40 minutes chatting with him where I asked him about all those famous games that he has played. It was great hearing from him, how he felt during those iconic moments. All players will benefit from having a player like him around. But it's a team game, in the end it's not about one player. He is our coach now so I am looking forward to see what plans he has for the team."
Hopeful that the new-look team will turn things around for the franchise this time around, Anelka said he was confident of a top-four finish for Mumbai City. Saying he was excited about the new coaching role entrusted to him, the ex Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Real Madrid forward expressed his eagerness to get things started now that most of the players have reached the city.
A 3 week pre-season camp in Dubai was announced for the squad. Mumbai City CEO Indranil Das said,
"We picked Dubai after much consideration, because of the facilities available over there, and because the conditions over there are very similar to the ones players will be facing here in India."
Subroto Pal, the trusted custodian of Salgaocar and Mumbai City, who is presently the first choice keeper for the Indian national team, made a rare appearance in a regular team jersey rather than a goalkeeper's shirt. Saying he was happy to be back in Mumbai, he was realistic about the team's chances,
"I cannot guarantee that we will win the ISL, but I can guarantee you that we will give our very best on the field."
Mumbai City co-owner and Bollywood star Ranbir Kapoor also came out on stage and indulged in a bit of shootaround with the players, confessing that even though he considers himself the best football player in Bollywood, he does not presume to have the knowhow to tell his players what to do on the pitch,
"At most I can give them a pep talk, in the way any supporter can do. I consider myself as just a fan of this club, like everyone else."
But he was very optimistic that the new attacking line up consisting the likes of Anelka, Chhetri, Sony Norde and Andre Moritz will make them one of the best in the ISL,
"Anelka just promised you top four, I promise you victory. Please come to the stadium and support Mumbai City."
Mumbai City begin their ISL campaign with an away match against fellow Maharashtra franchise FC Pune City on 5th October. Their first home game takes place on 16th October, at the D Y Patil Stadium, against Chennaiyin FC. The franchise will be hoping for a much larger fan following and better performance on the field after a relatively mediocre campaign in the inaugural ISL.