The Kerala Blasters head coach also admitted that the Gaurs were the better side in the first half but claimed it was the southerners who shone in the second.
Kerala Blasters held high flying FC Goa for a hard-fought draw in the Indian Super League on Saturday night. While FC Goa looked the dominant side in the first 45 minutes, Kerala Blasters looked threatening in the second half. Following the stalemate, head coach Kibu Vicuna addressed in the post-match press conference.
Kerala Blasters looked cautious during the first half, however, looked like a different side altogether in the second half. Speaking about the strategy against the Gaurs, Kibu Vicuna felt the Gaurs played well in the first half but it was his team who were the better side in the final 45 minutes.
A game of two halves
“No, today they (FC Goa) played really well in the first half. They had the ball, they played and we had to defend more than attacking. It’s true the second half was completely different, and I think we were a better team in the second half on the pitch,” he expressed.
Although the game finished as a draw, Kerala Blasters had their own set of chances, which could have guaranteed them the three points. Kibu Vicuna opined that although he is happy with a draw, they deserved to walk out of the game as winners, given their performance in the second half.
“Yes, I think so,” said the Spaniard. “Today we had the chances that we lost (sic). We got a point, we wanted three. It’s true it was a very strange game, the first half they were better and the second half was more even, so I’m satisfied with the draw,” he continued.
Ivan Gonzalez’s red card was a significant moment in the game. After FC Goa reduced to 10 men, Kerala Blasters pushed hard for the winning goal till the very end. On being questioned about what was going on through his head during that period, Kibu Vicuna revealed, “It was very tricky. We had to control and try to create chances, and also, we knew they are very good in counter attack. We wanted to score a goal, but we also wanted to defend.”
Rahul KP has been the one of the most impactful player for the southerners in the last few games and has delivered goals whenever the team needed. However, he picked up his fourth yellow card on Saturday night and will not feature in the next game against Jamshedpur FC, along with Jeakson Singh.
On missing Rahul KP and Jeakson Singh in the next game
While the absence of the duo might pose a problem for the team, Kibu Vicuna believes Kerala Blasters will remain indifferent. “We will play with 11 players. it’s true we will miss them, we will see. Probably, we will recover some players who didn’t play today, and also, there are players on the bench who want to have their chances,” he quipped.
With 14 points from 13 games, the chances of Kerala Blasters qualifying for the playoffs is harder than ever now. The southerners desperately needed a win on Saturday to keep their chances alive, but unfortunately had to walk away with a solitary point.
On receiving one point
“Of course we wanted three points, but for me Goa is a great team. We have to respect the point, and we deserve the draw,” the tactician commented.
Kerala Blasters started the season slowly, however, their performance have improved from the first half of the season, especially after the loss against Odisha FC. Kibu Vicuna believes it made the team stronger mentally and brought them closer and made them determined to do well.
Change of attitude and performance in the squad
“I think that after the match against Odisha, everyone gave a step forward. We are playing together, we are fighting together. We have a dream to get a place in the playoffs, we are playing more solid than before, we are more competitive in the games,” he opined.
“In our first leg against Bengaluru and Goa, we lost both games, but now in the second match against them, we got four points. The most important thing is that we are competing well against all teams,” he added.
“We have to keep going and try to prepare us as best as possible for the next game and fight for to get the three points against Jamshedpur,” he concluded.