Both coaches praised the electric atmpsphere at Kanteerava Stadium.
Playing their first match away from home was always going to be a difficult task for the ISL 2016 semi-finalists which was duly acknowledged by coach Alexandre Guimaraes.
“The first match is difficult always and to add to that we played against a team that is at an advanced stage and have a core group of players that have been playing together for a while which was seen in the fluidity of their game. A lot of people have said that they are the favourites for the title,” said the Brazil-born Costa Rican.
“Also you cannot discount the fact that when you are playing your first match in an atmosphere like this one, it is always difficult,” added the gaffer.
However, he was quick to emphasize that his team did not come into this game looking for a point. “We came to win and this was our first idea. We had some situations during the game which caused us to change our plan. This is, however, no reflection on the performance of the opposition and they played better than us. We will take this loss as a learning for us to address in the next game,” said Guimaraes.
The Mumbaikars were weakened during the first half when midfielder Leonardo da Costa was withdrawn as he was struggling on the pitch. In addition, versatile striker Balwant Singh did not start the game as he too was carrying an injury.
“Leonardo had a slight discomfort and we wanted him to be fit for the next game so we took him off. Balwant was not fully fit before this game and we hope to have him back for the next game. We have about 4 days before our next game and we will have the doctors assess the situation then,” explained Guimaraes.
Mumbai did make a tactical change in the second half where Mehrajuddin Wadoo was brought on for Sahil Tavora and Raju Gaikwad was shifted to the left flank to provide cover for Abinash Ruidas who was being tested repeatedly by Udanta Singh and Harmanjot Khabra.
“During the second half till the goal, the adjustment helped us control the game a bit more. We defended better and played better than the first half. The idea was to nullify their attacks on the left side where they were hurting us a lot,” pointed out the 58-year old.
“Our relationship with the fans is more close now”- Albert Roca
The Spanish coach oversaw his side’s victory against Mumbai City FC in Bengaluru’s first appearance in the (ISL) and paid tribute to the vociferous support from the famed fans of the club.
“It is important for the club and city to see so many fans coming to support us. I think our relationship with them is more close than ever and will only be better in the future,” acknowledged Roca.
Goals from debutant Eduardo Garcia and captain Sunil Chhetri ensured that the Blues got their ISL campaign off to the perfect start. What was most interesting about Garcia’s goal was assistant coach Carles Cuadrat asking for the corner to be taken short that led to the goal.
“We are working hard on our set-pieces and Carles has done a very good job with that. 30% of goals in football come from set-pieces and it is important to address that,” hailed Roca.
With the ISL rules permitting five foreigners to be fielded Roca opted to start with his full quota of foreigners with striker Miku and Garcia making their Bengaluru FC debuts. Garcia in particular had a telling effect with his fine solo goal.
“Our five foreigners showed their quality. I am happy with their performance. In the training sessions they have proved that they are ready. We will have a lot of games with the AFC Cup as well so they will hit their stride soon. It is a good experience for them,” said the former Barcelona assistant coach.
Former Celtic striker Miku in particular had a very active game as his combination play with Chhetri was a delight.
“Miku’s an outstanding player. He played a long time in the Spanish league. We expected him to deliver a top performance and he did, despite that he didn’t score a goal. In the next games he will be very important,” praised Roca.
In addition, Rahul Bheke was fielded at left-back in place of regular choice Nishu Kumar. Roca hailed the versatility of Bheke to play anywhere across the defence.
“Rahul has proved in the I-League that he can play in a variety of positions across the defence. He did a good job. We will try out different things with the squad we have. I felt that playing him on the left would be a better way to win so I played him there,” said Roca.