The tactician spoke on the absence of a few players and reflected on the stalemate.
In what was a very intense fixture between two of the most entertaining teams from the southern part of the country, Kerala Blasters held Chennaiyin FC to a goalless draw in the 2020-21 Indian Super League (ISL). Blasters head coach Kibu Vicuna spoke to reporters after the match and answered questions on key aspects of the game.
Vicuna began by speaking about how his team slowly managed to gain control over proceedings against Chennaiyin FC. “I’m aware that we didn’t start the game well. But, halfway through the first 45 minutes we found our rhythm, gained more control, managed to hold on to the ball and got closer to the opponents’ half.”
“Both teams were equally matched in the second half, but in the last 15 minutes or so our quality dipped,” he said, before adding, “But, that can be attributed to the fact that we had a game on Thursday, just three days ago. I think that if we continue to play like this and improve more, we will win and get the three points from each of the upcoming matches.”
Earlier this summer, the Yellow Army’s all-time record goalscorer Bartholomew Ogbeche left the club and the responsibility to score goals fell on Gary Hooper, their new recruit. However, so far Hooper is finding it hard to adapt to the conditions at his new club, where he is not just a goal-poacher as opposed to his playing days at other teams. Despite it being so, the coach asserted that the 32-year-old is all set to have a good season.
“From Gary we expect goals. He is trying to do that and meanwhile, he is also playing with the rest of the team by working with his teammates. Surely, he has a good season ahead.”
The 48-year-old then went on to give updates on the fitness of Vicente Gomez and Sahal Abdul Samad, who did not play against the Marina Machans. “Vicente had a fall today morning. Hence, he couldn’t play in today’s game and hopefully, he’ll be back in time for our next. Regarding Sahal, he is recovering. I was thinking of giving him some minutes, but then we had to make some other changes in the playing XI due to players getting tired,” he said.
He also gave an initial assessment of Sergio Cidoncha’s injury, after the midfielder hurt his ankle in the second half of the game. “I don’t know, we will have to see. I think it is an ankle twist, I hope it’s not a big problem.”
The former Mohun Bagan coach also spoke on what went right and what needs to improve in terms of their playing style. “Coming into the match against Chennaiyin, one of the things that we had to improve was the compactness of the team, in a tactical point of view. Today, with a higher backline, especially in the second half, we were able to achieve that,” the tactician said.
“It’s true that we had chances to score, especially from set-pieces, but we didn’t finish them off in the final third. We are definitely going to work harder on that during training and surely we will be trying harder to convert these chances as they come in the upcoming games.” he added further.
Chennaiyin FC started the match quite well and came close to scoring twice in the first 15 minutes. However, Kerala Blasters slowly built momentum going forward and by the time the first half ended, they had greater possession and had also taken more shots. Later, in the second half, the Marina Machans missed a golden opportunity to score as they earned a penalty, but Jakub Sylvestr’s shot was saved brilliantly by Blasters’ goalkeeper Albino Gomes.
Eventually, the match ended 0-0 with both teams failing to capitalize on multiple chances. Chennaiyin FC climbed to third place with four points from two matches (one win, one draw). Kerala Blasters, meanwhile, are still searching for their first win and are currently in seventh place with two points from three games (two draws, one loss).