Ishfaq Ahmed: We had to pay for making mistakes against quality strikers

Kerala Blasters FC crashed out of the top four race in Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 after succumbing to a 6-3 loss to Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Saturday. Kerala skipper Bartholomew Ogbeche scored a hat-trick - the season's first - on the night but it wasn't quite enough. Several defensive lapses, which led to soft goals, contributed to Kerala's defeat.

At the post-match press conference, Kerala assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed addressed these unforced errors and stated, “We have to go back to the drawing board and work on these mistakes. These were costly errors. If you make these sort of errors against quality strikers, you will pay the price and we did. If you see the second half, we started well. The boys responded well to going down 3-0 in the first half. But again, we made mistakes and it cost us the entire match.”

“All three goals in the first half came due to individual errors. First was from an unfortunate mistake by our goalkeeper (TP Rehenesh) and the two which followed came from us losing possession at crucial stages, thereby inviting counter attacks. Chennaiyin have quality strikers who are in form. If you gave them an inch they will take it,” he added.

He, however, gave credit to the Chennaiyin team for capitalizing on Kerala’s mistakes and said, “But I won’t take anything away from Chennaiyin. They capitalized on their chances. I wish them all the best.”

Expanding on Rehenesh’s misstep in the 39th minute, which opened the floodgates for Chennaiyin, Ahmed noted, “He has been playing for sometime now. There are times when you have to pick yourself up. He knows he made some mistakes and mistakes happen. How strongly he can come back is up to him. I hope he is mentally strong and can come back stronger.”

With Kerala out of the top four race, Ishfaq ended with a ‘thank you’ note of sorts for the home fans. “First of all, I want to appreciate the fans who came to support us. The Manjappada are always behind us. Whatever the results are, they keep supporting the team. We have been unfortunate with injuries. I am not taking these as an excuse, but they did come at the wrong moments for us. We still have two important players out,” he opined.

Read the Match Report here.

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