James: We threw kitchen sink at them but failed to score
David James discusses tactics with his defender Cédric Hengbart during a break.
Kerala Blaster FC head coach David James cut a dejected figure post his team’s nil-nil result against NorthEast United FC at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi, on Thursday night. The result leaves Kerala in a limbo as their progress to the semi-finals is now dependent on the result of the Pune FC-Delhi Dynamo FC game and potentially also on a cornucopia of other factors.
The former England goalkeeper was adamant that his side played well and the scoreline was not a fair reflection of the result. “We should have won the game. Up until we stated really started pushing for a goal, NorthEast United didn’t have many chances and were not a threat. We had a couple of chances from set plays and we also created a few other chances. Our goal keeper Sandip Nandy also made two important saves. Had we lost today, we would have been booking our flights home now,” James remarked at the post-match press conference.
“Delhi are playing Pune next, Pune have to win and Delhi have to win too, so going into the last game of the season we still have a chance to go on into the semi-finals provided we win,” he added.
James said that though the hosts enjoyed a one man advantage after rival striker James Keane was sent off in the 75th minute, it didn’t help them much because the Highlanders are a very organised side. “You’re up against one of the best defences in the Hero Indian Super League in the form of North East United, and playing with 10 players doesn’t change their mindset because they are a very organised team,” he opined.
“I am just frustrated that we couldn’t take the opportunities that we created, especially from set plays. We had a more aggressive line-up and formation in the form of a midfield diamond, we also made more attacking substitutions. We literally threw the kitchen sink at them, created chances, but unfortunately, we couldn’t score the goal that was needed to win the game, as goals make a difference,” James sighed.
When questioned why he opted not to field wing back Sandesh Jhingan, the former Liverpool and Manchester City goalkeeper said that all 29 players trained before the game but he only fielded those players whom he thought would be able to last the full 90 minutes. “Yes, Sandesh had an injury during the last game and so did I. All 29 players trained, but like I said in the previous press conference, I didn’t want to make substitutions during a game because a player couldn’t complete his shift as this hampers our game plan,” James concluded.