It took a contentcious penalty to settle the game.
Mumbai City FC defeated Chennaiyin FC 1-0 in an Indian Super League match played at the Mumbai Football Arena on Sunday, courtesy an Achille Emana penalty to maintain a perfect start to their season at home.
Mumbai defended deep and hit the Chennaiyin on the counter with the Cameroonian Emana playing the best game of his season against one of the best sides in the league. Mumbai came up with three points albeit despite a good display of attacking football by the depleted Chennaiyin side. Both the managers spoke to the media after the game in the post-match press conference.
The game was won by Mumbai but if you ask Chennaiyin’s coach John Gregory, for him, only one team was playing and the other was struggling to stay in the game. He said, “It is one of the most one-sided matches I’ve ever seen. We missed far too many chances and the game could have been over by half-time and we still had chances in the second half, but we didn’t take any of them. It was very much one-sided.”
It was a match which, at least for Chennaiyin, saw a lot of big names missing from the starting lineup such as Gregory Nelson, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Raphael Augusto. Gregory explained, “They have got eighteen games that have to be played in the season and three in a week. They were incredibly tired. Raphael has been playing with injuries, Jeje has been playing with injuries and they have gone out there, not tonight but previously.”
“They have gone out there working exceptionally hard. You need to rest people. There are certain situations where if they started tonight there could have been a serious injury and we would have lost them for a month or six weeks or something like that.“
He also added later that the season is long and this is going to happen very often because of the schedule. “We made five changes in the starting XI. You can’t play the same lineup every game because of the schedule that we have.”
He continued, “You have to take care of them. I’m more interested in selecting the full team in a week’s time when we go to Bangalore. It’s a long season and I’ve to try to keep my players fresh and injury-free as much as possible. If you would have seen Jeje yesterday, you wouldn’t have expected him to make it to the bench.”
Mumbai coach Alexandre Guimaraes sounded satisfied with the team’s performance and he explained why his team deserved the win no matter what the others have to say. He said, “We knew that we have to be very strong here and we understood after the first half the kind of game the rival is trying to play. We adjusted some things. We deserved the win.”
As aforementioned, Gregory said that the team that should have won and the team that played better was his. Guimaraes knows that in football, sometimes the unpredictable happens and on Sunday, the team coming with much higher confidence lost.
He explained, “Sometimes you have your own version of the game. I just have to say that we are very glad that we won. This is what the game is about and I feel that in the second half we played much better. It is going to be like this, every game is going to be a battle.”
Mumbai have been much more aggressive while defending and have mostly defended deep. When questioned about why they have been approaching games defensively he answered, “I think that, like I said, first of all, you have to understand how the team is playing and I think we understood that very well.”
in Kerala where we had a fantastic second half and today again. We have changed players from last season, but the idea is same that we have to be strong defensively because we know that we have players who can make the difference.”