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We can still qualify for the playoffs-Habas


The The Stallions suffered their sixth loss of the season against Kerala Blasters....

FC Pune City suffered a hammer blow in their quest to secure a semis berth in Hero Indian Super League 2016 when they lost 2-1 to Kerala Blasters FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Friday evening. The Stallions fell behind to a Duckens Nazon goal in the seventh minute before Aaron Hughes doubled Kerala’s lead near the hour mark. Anibal Rodriguez managed to score a late consolation goal for Pune. However, it wasn’t enough as the orange army succumbed to their sixth loss of the season.

Speaking to the media at the post-match press conference in Kochi, Pune head coach Antonio Habas opined that a combination of conceding early, an injury as well as his team’s failure to convert opportunities contributed to their defeat. “We conceded the goal too early in the game. After which we had an injury [to Gustavo Oberman] and to replace one player before half time…all these things changed our system, our formation and our plan. We had three very good chances very close to their goal post that we should have scored twice,” Habas said.

The 59-year-old Spaniard though wasn’t prepared to buy into the idea that there was a lack of creativity in attack for Pune. “We had an extra midfielder today and they are very good players. Kerala Blasters FC were sitting back and waiting for us to attack as they knew it was an important match for us and that we will try to qualify. So, they counter-attacked and scored. We had all of our team attacking but conceded on the counter. For us it was a good match. We were playing well. It was not a lack of creativity but Kerala Blasters FC sat back and waited for us to attack,” he said.

The Stallions are now fifth in the standings with 15 points and have one away match against Atlético de Kolkata on December 2 still to play. When asked if Pune can still make the semi-finals, Habas said: “I think that we can get a maximum of 18 points. It is not impossible. Many things happened during the league, especially the schedule, the last three games are all away games, travelling a lot around India from north to south, it’s crazy. This season only FC Pune City are playing their last three games of the league stage away from home.”

Elaborating on how the scheduling has affected his side, Habas added: “Like I told you…The scheduling has to be the same for everyone. Last season in the final seven games, we had five away games and now this season we have three.”

Habas also shed light on why star midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh didn’t play against the Blasters on Friday. “He came to the group quite late [because of the AFC Cup]. Also last week he had a fever, he has got the flu. We have seven people with the flu in the team,” he said.

Report and Photo © ISL Media

Published: Sat Nov 26, 2016 11:14 AM IST


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