Odisha FC assistant coach Santosh Kashyap felt that things didn’t go in their favour as his team went down 3-0 to NorthEast United FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Saturday.

The Highlanders took the upper hand from the outset, creating numerous goal-scoring chances. Juan Pedro Benali’s side broke the deadlock with local boy Parthib Gogoi in the 12th minute. Spanish forward Nestor Albiach doubled the lead just four minutes later with his impressive footwork inside the opponent's box.

Konsam Phalguni Singh extended the lead just before the halftime break, giving his team a commanding 3-0 lead at the break. Despite Odisha FC having chances in the second half with Cy Goddard and Aniket Jadhav, their lack of precision in the final third prevented them from finding the net.

Despite the outcome, the Kalinga Warriors maintained their usual track record, boasting 68% possession and 86% passing accuracy. The visitors missed a golden opportunity in the first half when Fijian forward Roy Krishna's spot-kick was brilliantly denied by NorthEast United FC goalkeeper Mirshad Michu.

“No, we did not expect (the result) to be this way. We knew that they (NorthEast United FC) are very good in transition. We also had our chances, but somehow, it’s not our day, I believe,” Kashyap said in the post-match press conference.

“Krishna could have finished the game with a hat-trick. It’s not his day; he missed the penalty and two to three chances as well. They were good in transition, and they successfully executed in the first half. We (tried to) come back in the second half. Both teams had their chances, but it was all about conversion. They converted (their chances), and we couldn’t,” he added.

With their playoff berth already secured, Odisha FC had decided to rest some of their first-team players, providing opportunities to others who have seen limited action this season.

Kashyap confirmed that the main objective behind these lineup rotations in their starting eleven was to give the key players much-needed rest ahead of the knockout stages.

“It’s part of a rotation. We went into the match keeping in mind that our next match would be more important,” he commented.

“We wanted to give our main players rest and give chances to other players. Our Indian players gave everything today except for scoring. In top matches, scoring is the concern. You play well and put in effort, but scoring is the cutting edge, I believe. Definitely, we learn better from here and go for the next matches,” he continued.

At halftime, despite trailing 3-0, Odisha FC made a significant move by substituting three foreigners from their starting lineup: Ahmed Jahouh, Roy Krishna, and Mourtada Fall, thus providing further playing time to the Indian players.

Speaking about this decision, he stated, "At halftime, we substituted three of our main players. We are not focusing on this. We wanted to rotate our squad, give rest to our main players, and give a chance to our young players.”

“The coach also knows it very well, and I also don’t believe that the morale of the team will drop due to this defeat,” he signed off.