A topsy-turvy affair ensued last night when Mumbai City FC stepped out on to the pitch at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, a place where the Islanders had won three years in a row without conceding a goal. But some crucial errors at both ends of the pitch meant that run could not go on.
Amine Chermiti’s brace sandwiched between goals by Panagiotis Triadis and Asamoah Gyan meant the night ended with the scoreboard reading 2-2. When asked his outlook towards the result, Jorge Costa lauded his side’s performance throughout the game but exclaimed on some errors which should have been avoided at any cost.
“I was happy. I am never 100% happy but I was pleased with how we were playing and I had the confidence that we could go out there in the second half and do something good. We were making some mistakes, so fixing that was paramount. But I asked the players to keep at it, to believe, to maintain the quality and to do something extra if possible to get the result,” said Costa.
“If you saw, the changes we made in the second half, we showed our intent to win and not to keep it 2-2. When Paulo came off, we got Diego to come inside which is not his normal position and brought on Kevyn, another forward to try to score. But, unfortunately we’re still making some mistakes, some that we cannot afford to make at this level. It’s something we need to work on as a team and at an individual level too to be stronger tomorrow.”
Jorge Costa fielded an all-Indian defence for a fourth game in a row, owing to Mato Grgić’s injury in our season opener in Kochi. In these four games, the Islanders have kept one clean sheet but have shipped 10 goals in the subsequent three games. Even last night, both goals from the hosts came only after a pair of blasphemous errors, one a piece from Souvik Chakrabarti and Paulo Machado.
Refusing to blame any particular section of his side, Costa remarked, “We made some mistakes today, like we did in our last two games. But it’s not the Indian backline that make the mistake. I don’t like to compartmentalize and speak about the goalkeeper, the defence, the midfield or the forwards. I prefer to speak collectively about my team and today as a team, I think we made a very good game.”
“We leave Guwahati with one point, but with all due respect to NorthEast United, one point is not enough for everything that we did out there on the pitch. But football is such. I don’t know if we won one point or lost two points, we’ll find that out at the end. But that’s what I said to the players at the end of the game – if you play like this, with this quality and this attitude, we will make it to where we want to be at the end of the season,” added Costa.
Three of the four goals scored in the first half were direct results of defensive mistakes, albeit all three were great attacking efforts. But after the 90 minutes, Jorge Costa was made to rue the chances his side could not convert.
“In my opinion, we were very close to scoring and taking the tie in the second half. NorthEast United too had their chances, but mostly from counter attacks. I have watched all of NorthEast United’s games from the beginning of the season and they have never played on the counter attack. Why did this happen? Because they played against a good team, Mumbai City FC, and we pushed them to do this.”
“It’s not the result we wanted. We did not come all the way here to get one point. There’s nothing more to say. We weren’t alone on the pitch, we played against a good team that nobody has managed to beat so far. But like I said, one point is what it is. We’ll find out later whether this was one point gained or two lost,” summed up the 47 year old Portuguese.
The Islanders will make the trip to the Vivekananda Yuva Bharati Krirangan to face high-flying table-toppers ATK on November 30 at 7.30pm.