DSK Shivajians manager David Rogers reckons his team’s performance is suggestive of the growth of Indian football. . .

The Pune outfit eked out a much-deserved point at Chennai City on Sunday night, courtesy of a last-gasp low volley from former Republic of Ireland youth international Shane McFaul. Reflecting on his side’s performance after the 1-1 draw, the Liverpool-born manager said: “I’m happy, but I’m sort of frustrated. I told my players that I had never seen such a one-sided game, ever. To concede a goal the way we did, from a set piece, was disappointing.

“I said to the players at half-time: ‘Go and show a bit of character. You played well but were unfortunate to concede a silly goal. You’re more than capable of winning the game.’ The fighting spirit we displayed and the tempo and adrenaline with which we played were amazing. Even the Chennai coach told me that they were lucky that day.”

Shivajians, much like Minerva Punjab and Shillong Lajong, bank heavily on youngsters and favour cultivating their talents over signing proven stars. Their coach appeared to be proud of the club’s philosophy as he reminded the journalists that they had named six under-19 players and finished the game with seven under-22 players in Chennai. “You could see today that we have a lot of quality young players; it’s a victory for Indian football,” stated Rogers.

Despite Juan Quero being a Santi Cazorla-esque presence in the midfield, often dribbling past Chennai’s defensive players and spraying eye-catching passes, they lacked the cutting edge as their inexperienced strikers failed to be in goal-scoring positions. They sorely missed Kim Seung-Yong, who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Questioned about the South Korean’s influence, the Englishman said, “Kim is the best number nine in the league. He’s’ the best at holding up play and bringing important players into play. He is good in the box and attacks balls. You’ve got to deal with this situation as you get many things thrown at you throughout the course of the season. That’s why you have a strong squad.”

“I said to the squad that I’d be disappointed if we weren’t creating many chances. In either half, we were creating numerous chances. The boys’ performance exemplified what I see in training on a daily basis; they are hungry, genuine and want to play for DSK. They are fantastic footballers and passionate individuals, who can build Indian football.”

His Chennai counterpart Soundararajan cut a frustrated figure after watching his players throw away their lead in the dying seconds. Speaking about the result, he stated, “Their ball possession and touches were far better than ours. We should have focused on protecting the lead, but we failed to do just that. We’d have been happy if we had collected all three points.”

Soundararajan has never been a Marcos Vinicius fan and, after a game that saw the Brazilian hardly register his presence, he surprisingly branded him a “very good player” before dissecting his poor display.

“Tank is talented, but his first touch is bad. He misses possession too much. The entire team is suffering a lot because of that. We’ll work on his shortcomings on the training ground. He made two good passes to Charles [de Souza] today; he can dribble past two or three players at times.

He wanted to play in the midfield, as he’s a natural winger. He didn’t help out much in the defence, and that was one of our major problems. Tank also missed a lot of chances. I thought we could have scored more. That’s why I took off Tank to bring on [Michael] Soosairaj,” concluded the Chennai gaffer.