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Guimaraes refuses to give up on playoffs, Coppell delights in crucial win


The Men of Steel continued their late dash for the top four with a win in the metropolis.

Mumbai City FC crashed to their sixth defeat of Indian Super League (ISL) and their third consecutive loss at home when Jamshedpur FC edged them 2-1 at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday. The Islanders were on the backfoot as a result of Sanju Pradhan’s first-half own goal but hit back through Everton Santos’ equaliser in the second period. However, Bikash Jairu struck six minutes from time to bag all three points for the league debutants.

The loss severely dents Mumbai’s hopes of making the playoffs, and addressing the media post the Islanders’ setback was their head coach Alexandre Guimaraes. The Costa Rican shared his disappointment after the frustrating defeat. “Sometimes football does not give you the reward that you work for,” he inferred. “We played very well, but we did not convert the possibilities that we had. And when that happens, sometimes just one situation can put you in trouble. It’s what happened today.”

Guimaraes went on to explain, “We had a very good first half, but they profited from one of our mistakes. Then in the second half we had to take our risks which gave us opportunities. We were going to get a draw, and in that situation, we were going for the win. However, they had another situation which they profited from. My players did what I asked them to do. They found ways to penetrate Jamshedpur’s tough defence, but sometimes you have chances and don’t make (the most of) it.”

Striker Balwant Singh was guilty of missing some good opportunities, but Guimaraes defended his team’s leading marksmen’s display. “He is our top scorer,” stated the 58-year-old. “But sometimes players have these nights. But I am sure in the next game he will fight and get over this situation.”

When asked about the troubling home form of the Islanders, Guimaraes replied, “This is not the situation we had in mind. From these three home games, we played two of them the way we should play. But unfortunately, we did not get the points from the games. So, sometimes football is like that.”

However, he wasn’t prepared to write off his side’s chances of still making the playoffs yet. “I just told the players in the dressing room that we still have our chances; we still have the possibility to be in the top-four,” Guimaraes remarked. “It is more difficult now, but anything can happen. In ISL 2, there was one team (Chennaiyin FC) that won five-six games in a row at the end and went on to become champions. So, we have to win all our games. So, tomorrow we will start to work hard on our next game against Pune.”

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The win places the league debutants in the top four and post the match their head coach Steve Coppell addressed the media.

The Englishman credited a good start to the season for his team that brought them to where they are right now.

“I thought we had a good start to the season, maybe not in terms of points return but I think the foundation was set with the clean sheets Subrata had in the early stages of the season,” he explained. “We only lost one game in six, so I think that’s a very, very solid start.”

Coppell also highlighted the fact that despite having a busy schedule, his players delivered the goods emphatically, and he lauded them for the same.

“This is our fourth game in 11 days and we have done a lot of travelling; we have gone across Indian twice,” he stated. “So, we picked up nine points from a possible 12, which includes three away games, and I am very, very happy. But everybody has put a lot of hard work. I think we rode our luck in the second half and Subrata made some terrific saves. But we went on going. Even when they scored, it may have been easy to relax. We had nothing left in the tank. I don’t know where they got their energy from, because as I said it has been a difficult period. But, we have risen to the challenge.”

The 62-year-old also explained why he is never seen near the touchline shouting out instructions.

“I like to stay back and analyze,” he revealed. “If you get too emotional, you can’t really see what happens. People shouting on the lines does not make teams win. Players make the teams win.”

Coppell then explained as to what made the difference in the end.

“After they scored, we had some 15 minutes to go,” he said. “I felt the next five minutes were critical. And they got themselves together. It’s the spirit within the players, it’s the spirit within the team. They wanted something from the game. To get that, you need to stand up and fight and they stood up and fought. We were not just defending.”

Jamshedpur’s goalkeeper Subrata Paul came up with some stand-out saves in a hero of the match performance, and he stated that a collective effort from the team brought them the success.

“I did nothing extra,” Paul stated. “My job is to save the goal. I just tried to do it. We defended as a team. Our defenders, midfielders and strikers did the job well and we got the three points.”


Published: Fri Feb 02, 2018 12:32 PM IST


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