A better start than last season: Jorge Costa

End to end action. Cards. Missed chances. The game had everything, except goals. The Islanders played out a tough 0-0 draw against Chennaiyin FC at the Marina Arena last night.

After two consecutive away games to begin the season, Jorge Costa’s men sit atop the Hero ISL standings with 4 very crucial points from two games. Despite having the better opportunities in the game, Jorge Costa said he was very happy with the showing his side put up.

“It’s unfortunate that the game finished 0-0. I think, for us, it was a very good game. We had several chances to score. Chennaiyin too had several chances to score. But unfortunately for the people that came to the stadium to watch the game and the ones who were watching at home, they could not see a goal. This game deserved to be more than 0-0”, said the Boss while speaking to the media after the game.

Starting the 2019/20 Hero ISL campaign with two key away fixtures in a span of 3 days, the Boss admitted that he expected to come back with two wins but the club can be satisfied coming back with a win and a draw.

“It was a very difficult game for us. We played two away games in 72 hours and that can never be easy. But I’m very happy with the players and they gave a very good response on the pitch. We fought throughout the game and we tried to play good football. And after two away games, we have four points. It’s not what we wanted before, but it’s not bad either. Now, we have another day for the players to recover and then we play two games at home”, added Costa.

Mumbai City FC, last campaign, had a rocky start to their 2018/19 season. A home defeat in the opening game to Jamshedpur and a late point in Kochi had left the Islanders languishing with a point after two games. But the Boss believes that an improved start this year will be a major boost.

“We’ve made a better start than last season. In the first two games of last season, we had a single point. We started badly last season but yet, we finished in the top 4.”

“The good thing is that I have a team, a family. With the problems we are having with some very important players, we are giving a good showing inside the field. So in such a situation, I’m the happiest coach in the world. Moreover, I see the work the players do on a daily basis and I’m very happy with all of them.”

After sustaining some early pressure from the home side, the Islanders had multiple opportunities to take the lead. On nearly half a dozen occassions, they even found themselves in Chennaiyin’s box, with only a finishing touch left to be applied.

However, Jorge Costa seems unperturbed about the finishing of the Islanders’ strike force. “We’re up there with four points and I’m happy. We’ve had two very very difficult games away from home. And like I said before, im very happy with my players. Yes, we didn’t score today but today we had three, four or five very clear chances to score. I will be worried if in 90 minutes, we don’t manage to reach the opponent’s goal. Right now, we’re playing well, creating plenty of chances and I know, the goals will come soon.”

After losing key players in pre-season, injury woes have continued to be a trend for the Islanders. Jorge Costa’s was forced to make a double switch in Kochi towards the end of the first half, taking off Paulo Machado and Mato Grgic, both thanks to injuries. Sougou, who replaced Paulo in Kochi, made his first full start of the season last night. Much to the Islanders’ dismay, the club’s record goalscorer was forced off in the first half, adding another name to the injury list at the club.

Despite the increasing number of casualties, Jorge Costa put his trust in his squad. “Sougou did not start the first game against Kerala Blasters. He was coming back from an injury. But because of the circumstances, he played a little over a half in Kochi. We thought he would be okay to play this game, but unfortunately his old injury has kept him out again. Machado also has had some problems after the Kerala game. Mato Grgic will be out for a few weeks. You all are aware of the problem with Anwar Ali. And Sourav Das is injured too,” said the Portugese.

“From the very first day, I’ve said that I don’t have a first 11. I have a full squad of 25 players. They are working hard and fighting for each other. I trust all of them,” reiterated Costa.

For a second game in succession, Costa’s men were on the receiving end of some questionable refereeing – this time, with three yellow cards, one to Costa himself and a late sending off of Souvik Chakrabarti. All this, with zero bookings to the home side.

When asked if he was happy about the standards of officiating, Costa smirked, “In this rugby game?”

“Five yellow cards to us, one for me. But, this is what we have. I’m only focussed on doing my job. That’s why the club has hired me, to do my job. And I need to adapt myseld to this kind of a situation.”

“You know, my life before was football and now also, it’s football. I’ve grown up with a ball. I used to say this as a joke but, football is not ballet. In ballet, you don’t touch. But in football, you have contact. And we need to understand the difference between football and ballet,” he added.

The Islanders are back home next for the first time this season. We’ll face new entrants Odisha FC at the Mumbai Football Arena on October 31 at 7.30pm. Get your tickets HERE!