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I am very pleased with the performance-Coppell

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The Englishman was happy after taking a narrow advantage over the Lions...

Kerala Blasters FC beat Delhi Dynamos FC 1-0 in the first leg of the second semi-final of Hero Indian Super League 2016 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday. Kervens Belfort scored the only goal of the game for the Blasters in the 65th minute to earn his side a narrow advantage heading into the second leg on Wednesday.

Speaking at the post-match press conference, Kerala head coach Steve Coppell said he was pleased with the result. “I am very pleased that we created opportunities and going forward it gives us optimism and Delhi are a good side and for us just to get our noses in front was important and another goal would have been great but we have got our noses in front and we are pleased to be going there, and it is a shame that the second leg isn’t here but we have talked about that before.”

The first half saw Coppell withdraw Josu Currais near the 30-minute mark after the Spaniard had already been cautioned and was being given the run around by Delhi’s talisman Marcelinho. Explaining his decision to substitute Josu so early, Coppell said: “I just made a judgement call really, as he had been booked and there was friction between him, the referee and Marcelinho. I felt a little bit aggrieved as Mehtab [Hossain] makes one challenge and gets a yellow card and Josu made a couple of challenges and I could not believe that the linesman gave the decision their way and one in particular I thought was 100% a foul against us and then the next minute Josu gets upset and there is a booking. [And then] I am thinking an hour against Marcelinho, there is going to be more conflict and confrontation and it is not a good idea to play against anyone with ten men, so I made the decision and Boris [Kadio], I thought he did terrifically well and he did a very difficult role very well.”

Delhi had strong appeals for a penalty in the dying moments of the game turned down after Sandesh Jhingan seemed to have brought down Marcelinho in the box. Coppell, however, backed the referee, insisting the visitors have a propensity to go down rather easily. “It happens and there is no point complaining about the referee and you just have got to get on with it. I must admit I wasn’t happy with some decisions and sometimes in football decisions go in your favour and sometimes they go against you and maybe in Delhi, they go for us. I think a couple of decisions in the second half, the referee was stronger then and he got better as the game went down and Delhi you know have got a couple of light-weight players and if you touch them they tend to fall down, so I think the referee made a couple of good strong decisions then, when they were crying out for penalties,” Coppell said.

When asked how his side would approach the second leg in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Wednesday, given they have a 1-0 lead on aggregate, Coppell said: “I honestly don’t know and we will just go out and play and I don’t think you can set out and decide that we will defend or counter-attack and the game has an ebb and flow to it but at home knowing that they have to score goals and beat us, so they might have more urgency in their play and we might be pressurised a little bit more and there is no way we will go there thinking we are 1-0 ahead. We will defend it but we will just go there and play and see what happens.”

Haitian striker Belfort’s goal on the counter proved to be the difference on the night. Commenting on if they were planning to continue relying on counter-attacks, the 61-year-old Englishman said: “I don’t know and we have to find out till everyone recovers and that would be a big part of the decision-making process and we have to travel tomorrow and we have only one day to prepare for the game on Wednesday, so we will wait till tomorrow and see how the players are and if anyone has any injuries and then we will pick the team on Tuesday.”

 

Report and Photo Courtesy: ISL Media

Published: Mon Dec 12, 2016 01:23 PM IST

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