“The players held their heads up, kept pushing and worked to get the points”

The Boss Spoke To Us About His Side’s Win Against Kerala Blasters And The Improvement He Sees In The Blues’ Performances…

On the game against the Blasters…

We were going for the three points from the start. We had quite a few chances to score in the first half but were unfortunate at the set piece, from which Kerala Blasters scored. We take a lot of risk with set pieces. Sometimes we go forward with seven or eight players. I can afford that. It was my mistake as it was my instruction to the players, and they were following that. That’s the end of that story.

At set pieces, for me, it is a good balance that we have. Sometimes we concede and we are not happy, that’s normal. But I am happy at the end of the day because the boys kept pushing despite conceding the goal and created a lot of good chances in attack.

On his half time team talk…

The talk at half time was more about being confident on the pitch. Once we got to 1-1, we were in the game again. It was not about blaming ourselves for the mistake from which they scored, it was about building up from that point. They are very clear about working as a unit and having a strong mentality. And you saw that after we missed the penalty too. But my players held their heads up and kept working to get the three points. I am very happy with their attitude.

On teams trying to figure his set piece routines…

We have a lot of variations for set pieces. It is what we try and work on. I hope we will continue to keep surprising teams with different routines. The first goal we conceded was my fault, it’s just a misunderstanding. On another day, it would have worked. So we have no problem with what we do from set pieces.

On losing out on another clean sheet…

It is not a question of clean sheets or not, at the end of the day we want to get the three points. We have new players who have to get used to the system that we are playing. This is normal, and it will take some time. I think the team is progressing very well in that regard.

On Chhetri’s penalty miss…

Sunil Chhetri is very proud of himself and I am sure he would have used the miss as a way to motivate himself and get his name on the scoresheet. That’s good, that’s a competitive reaction from the player. I don’t talk about penalties and I don’t celebrate when we win penalties because we have to score for it to be a goal. Otherwise, it is just a penalty won. And Sunil was just doing his best to try and confuse the goalkeeper today. As a striker, you are trying to confuse the goalkeeper and the goalkeeper is also trying to do the same to you. That’s a nice battle and this time Albino Gomes won it.

On the improvement in the players’ performance…

The team is working well from the first day but we need time to gel and get aligned to our pattern of play. At the start of the season we missed Dimas Delgado and Rahul Bheke, as they were not fully fit. Same with Kristian Opseth and Deshorn Brown. They are getting better.

I was very happy with our performance against NorthEast United, we deserved those three points. And after conceding two points there, it was important to win against Kerala Blasters. The game against Odisha FC will be another tough one, as they also need the points.

On the impact of his forwards…

Strikers need confidence to keep scoring goals. I am very happy, not just for Sunil but also for Kristian and Cleiton. I am sure Brown will also get on the scoresheet soon. He has not been playing much because he has a little muscle problem but I am sure he will also help the team as a striker. We want to be an offensive team, we want to create chances.

On the short pre-season and finding rhythm…

The short pre-season is affecting all the teams, not just us. But we are not going to use that as an excuse. We understand the situation. If you see the level of the games this season, it is not the same that we are used to in the Indian Super League. But every team is doing their best in trying to get their players fit and ready for the competition. I think we are going to see better games in the next few weeks like we saw today.