Ishfaq: Working on improving individual mistakes

Kerala Blasters FC will be gunning for maximum points against Chennaiyin FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai on Friday. The Blasters have failed to secure a win since the opening day of Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 and assistant coach Ishfaq Ahmed believes Kerala are paying the price for individual errors despite dominating games.

“Our performances this season is completely different from our displays last season. The brand of football that our coach (Eelco Schattorie) has brought to the team is very different. But we have been making individual mistakes in all our matches so far because of a lack of concentration from the players. We are working on improving that and I think despite having many players injured, whoever has come into the team has stood out and showed their character,” Ishfaq told reporters at the pre-match press conference.

He continued, “Some of the teams that we’ve played against, say for example Goa or Bengaluru; we dominated them. Goa’s one of the best teams in the league when it comes to keeping the ball, but we dominated them as well. However, we have to work on our individual errors and hopefully overcome that.”

The former Kerala Blasters player also pointed out the positives that have come about with Kerala dealing with injuries. “It’s the flipside of things. When players get injured that’s why you have bench strength, and everyone has the confidence of the coach. There were matches where we played just two foreign players and we played quite confident and dominated the other team with mostly Indian players on the pitch. It’s good for Indian football because it shows that we’ve arrived and if the Indian players continue to perform in the same manner then it’s good for everyone,” Ishfaq said.

When asked if he believes Kerala can still make the playoffs, he said, “I think it’s still very open. The team on top at present has about 16 points and that team has played one game extra. Any team can still progress to the top four. It’s just a matter of a couple of wins and you can get a place in the playoffs.”

Looking ahead to the game, Ishfaq insisted that the very nature of Friday’s clash should serve as enough motivation for his players. “The match itself is the motivation. I don’t think the coach needs to say anything because as you said, the southern derby is a big match. These are the matches where you go from being a boy to a man. You get a chance to show how mature you are and take things as a challenge to perform well and that’s a new step for all our youngsters. They need to take these kind of (derby) matches as a challenge and I don’t think they require any separate motivation on that. The match itself is a motivation because these are the games in which you want to stand out and perform very well,” he opined.

On their opponents Chennaiyin, Ishfaq added, “We have done our homework. We think they are a good team with many attacking players. They haven’t got the results that they’ve desired but it’s a tight league and a couple of wins can change all that. We respect them, they play good football and have a new coach, who I am sure has brought some freshness with him. They did quite well under the new coach against Jamshedpur and we are prepared for them.”

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