We need to be focused until the end: Costa

After enduring a gruelling 2-2 draw at the VYBK last night against table-toppers ATK, Jorge Costa’s Mumbai City FC were unlucky to say the least to come back home with just a solitary point. The game seemed to have found its conclusion when Serge Kevyn found the back of the net in the 93rd minute, but a defensive lapse allowed ATK’s Roy Krishna to find an equaliser in time added on after the stipulated five injury time minutes.

With identical results – and storylines – in consecutive away fixtures, first against NorthEast United and then ATK, Jorge Costa was visibly unhappy at the fact that his side could only come back to Mumbai with two points which could, and should have been six.

Expressing his disappointment, Costa said, “We knew this will be a difficult game and in my opinion, we played, we had the ball, we had the chances, we pressed and we tried and tried and tried. But again, one point is not enough. It’s not what we wanted and certainly not what we deserved.  We’ve been far from home for a week in which we had two games. We got two points from them but in reality, it should have been six. That’s football. If we had picked up full points here, we would have been closer to the top four. But I can tell you that at the end of the season, we’ll be there.”

Having won this fixture for the last three years in a row, last night’s game was never going to be a straightforward one given ATK’s formidable squad and their rich vein of form this season. Despite of that, Jorge Costa had signalled his intentions to fight for full points irrespective of the contrasting fortunes of both sides and was pleased that the Islanders rose to the occasion and almost, almost came away with a W.

“We went into the dressing room at half time losing 1-0. But we had the capacity and the quality to come back and make it 2-1. And then in the last second, or I should say well after the last second, we concede to make it 2-2. So of course I cannot be happy with the result, I cannot be happy about the way we conceded the second goal but I’m very, very proud of the players – of their quality, their spirit and all the good things they did keeping in mind we didn’t play against any team but we played against ATK in Kolkata.”

Apart from the late drama in last night’s game, there was a certain element of physicality with the way both teams went about business last night. Tempers were flying, crunching challenges were being thrown around and in just a short time into the game, the tone was set for the rest of the encounter.

Once known for a similar approach to the game during his time as a player, Costa seemed to have absolutely no qualms with the level of intensity. “To be honest, I enjoy this kind of football. I’ve always said that football is not ballet, so naturally there will be contact. It’s 11 vs 11 and we have four referees to make these decisions. About the game, as I told you yesterday, we came to fight for the three points and to be honest, I think we deserved the three points,” exuded the former Portuguese international.

However, with the game unfolding in the manner that it did, both sides were on the receiving end of an injury each. While Carl McHugh went off after the Scot rolled over his ankle rather painfully, the Islanders suffered a loss in the form of Diego Carlos. After a positive first half from the Brazilian, he was taken off very early in the second after pulling up in his groin.

When quizzed about the nature of Carlos’ injury, Costa admitted that it’s very early to say anything. “The medical staff will fully assess Diego. I hope it’s nothing serious, but at this stage that is all I can say,” added Costa.

There were some question marks raised over the refereeing after Rahul Gupta was reluctant to use the cards in his pocket despite the aggressive nature of the game. Moreover, there was further furore when he deemed it appropriate to add more time after the stipulated five minutes, allowing ATK to score in the dying moments of the game.

However, when asked for a comment on last night’s match officials, Jorge Costa was all praises for Gupta and the other three, praising them for maintaining the flow of the game.

“I like these kind of referees that allow the game to flow. If you ask me if he had an influence on the result, he didn’t. I know that ATK scored after the 95 minutes were done, but the referee decided to give an extra minute. That is his decision. And even if he gave three or four more minutes, we need to be focused until the very end. Having said that, I think today we saw a very good Mumbai City FC, a very good ATK and a very good referee. When it’s like this, there’s nothing much to say. I wish all the referees can be like this one.”

“This is the game. And we are there to play football and to fight to win. I keep repeating this, but football isn’t ballet. I enjoy this kind of a physical game, this is the football I like. Both, Mumbai City and ATK today had a quality game and both were fighting to win. This is football, no problem!” ended Costa with a sheepish smile.

The Islanders are back home to Aamchi Mumbai and continue their Hero ISL campaign when the Kerala Blasters roll into town. Catch the action at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday, December 5 at the Mumbai Football Arena at 7.30pm. Book your tickets for the game here!