The Gaurs faltered in the beginning and could get up to speed with the Blasters’ vehemence.

FC Goa lost to a spirited Kerala Blasters by a disheartening 3-1 scoreline at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday. The energetic Manjappada who never fail to stir up an electric atmosphere for their side unnerves many. But the Goa outfit did not give up till the very last moment. Goals from Diamatakos and Adrian Luna had already taken the steam out of their ship. Kalyuzhynyi’s finish in the second half put the game to bed but Carlos Pena’s side persevered and scored once. 

The Spanish head coach sat down with the media as he looked back on the game but at the same time promised to think positively and move forward.

Conceding three goals and the team’s performance

FC Goa conceded three goals for the first time this season. Accordingly, they also lost by a two-goal margin for the first time and Vukomanovic’s side’s energy was too much for them to handle. On being asked where it went wrong the tactician replied:

“I think in the first half, we conceded too many transitions. We knew that they were dangerous in that phase but yeah of course we had some troubles. We couldn’t counter-press properly or press them high and it caused problems for us.”

Chances they had and what could have been

The Gaurs had a few chances and the game opened up a bit in the second half with the introduction of the explosive Redeem Tlang. However, it was not meant to be their night as Carlos Pena said:

“In the second half, I think we played well because we were on the pitch with the two wingers. With Redeem (Tlang) and with Noah (Sadaoui), we could create some chances and that’s what we tried in the first half as well. However, we couldn’t really (get going).”

Saviour Gama’s injury

Saviour Gama went off in the 21st minute with what did not look to be a concerning injury. Nevertheless, the Gaurs coach said that nothing can be said for sure:

“Well, they have to do some tests now. I think the injury is not very serious and let’s see because with these things it takes time. We’ll soon have some news.”

Playing in front of a huge crowd   

Kochi is renowned for being one of the most nerve-wracking atmospheres to play in across India. The vocal Manjappada often proves to be an added element of pressure for any side that visits the Tuskers. Pena replied in earnest but was appreciative of their own efforts as well as.

“Well the first half was amazing. It was a big game. We tried (our best to win) and we congratulated Kerala (Blasters) for winning and we will move on to the next.” 

Taking off Brandon and introducing Redeem 

Redeem Tlang’s introduction appeared to help the Gaurs in spreading out their play and scoring a goal. Although the Gaurs couldn’t match the Blasters’ tireless running, Carlos Pena explained the tactical shift that the move introduced, as he elaborated:

“We thought that we needed more players in the (side) lines and out wide. So we decided to put Redeem to try and find that perfect balance. Iker (Guarrotxena) and Brandon (Fernandes) were not comfortable together in the middle. So we preferred to open the pitch and try to attack in another way. I think we did well during some moments but it was not enough because they had a bigger (goal) advantage.”

Key takeaways from the game to take into the next match

FC Goa have dropped to the fourth spot and will need to revitalise themselves if they are to stay in contention for the playoffs. Though there’s still a lot of time till the knockouts, the mentor always looks for positives to progress on.

“I think the team didn’t give up. We went into half-time down 2-0. It was pretty difficult already and we conceded another one at the start of the second half. With some injuries, it was not getting any easier, but the team did not stop. We tried to come back till the last minute. Now it’s time to learn and analyse what happened and we will move (forward) from here.”

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