Not easy to come to Kochi and win all three points: MCFC head coach Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham was happy with his team’s performance as they beat Kerala Blasters 2-0 away from home and extended their unbeaten run in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 at Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium, Kochi, on Friday.

The Islanders sealed the deal with first-half goals from Mehtab Singh and Jorge Pereyra Diaz to remain unbeaten after four games. The MCFC head coach was in full praise for hosts Kerala Blasters, who he thought came all guns blazing in the latter stages of the game. 

Buckingham was proud with the way his side stuck to their plans and withstood the pressure from Kerala Blasters in the second half. The Englishman also spoke about his side's performance, the atmosphere in Kochi, Diaz's return, and more.

Here are the excerpts from the post-match press conference:

A quick start to the match and two goals were scored in the first half. Kerala Blasters FC came out all guns blazing in the second half. Do you believe the outcome was a fair reflection of the way your team played or that you expected more from the game?

The first half was possibly the best football we have played since I have been here, with and without the ball. The goals we scored were very good while playing free-flowing and attacking football. We deserved to go into half-time with a 2-0 lead that we had.

We expected Kerala Blasters FC to comeback in the second half the way they did. We don’t come to Kochi and play in front of such wonderful fans who make so much noise throughout. It is not easy to come to this ground and win all three points. The thing that impresses me the most is that we not only came here and performed as well as we did, but also gained all three points. This victory is going to be very important as we progress into the season.

The opposition made an impact all through the second half. The way you set the team up to deal with the counter-attacks of Kerala Blasters FC and to capitalise in the second half while managing to keep hold of the result, are you disappointed to have missed quite a few chances?

I am extremely happy to have come here and taken home three points, unlike what happened in the last game where we were not able to convert a point into three. We did want to push and score more goals while trying to keep hold of the clean sheets, but the most important thing is the result at the end of 90 minutes, which is a pleasant thing to have come away with three points and a performance like that.

We will try to repeat this performance next week when we face another strong opponent in ATK Mohun Bagan. We have played four games and are unbeaten in the Hero ISL while having two clean sheets in our name.

You have played four matches, two in front of the home fans and two away from home. What are your views on the experience you have had so far with the atmosphere and the fans so far?

I said it earlier in front of the camera that this is football. This is why I have come to India to experience the different parts of the country and the football culture here, which is huge. The opportunity to come here and be able to play in front of a packed stadium, hear the noise and the support they show, is what a coach wants and demands as the team puts on a show for the fans.

Next week, it is another huge fixture coming up, so that is what I expect from the supporters. Come in huge numbers and show your backing for us to put on a show and improve the quality of football.

We spoke about Jorge Pereyra Diaz’s injury in the pre-match press conference. He started the game and scored a goal as well. How are things going exactly? Are there any injury concerns following tonight’s game?

He (Diaz) has not started too many games this season. He had enough game time in the previous three games so far, and there are mainly two reasons he started the game this evening. Firstly, because he has been working extremely hard and has been patient during the training.

We brought him to Mumbai City FC to lead our line because of the type of player that he is. When we play with recognised centre-forwards, we can pose a different threat to the opposition. I am very pleased for him and the mark he made for an hour in tonight’s game.

Speaking of Diaz’s return to his old club, good players always have the ability to come back and haunt their old teams.

Four games into the season, eight goals were scored and four conceded. The goals have all come from different sources/players. What are your thoughts on that particular factor?

That was our purpose and thought process during the recruitment. Last season, it was tough for us to find goals from elsewhere when our forwards went on a period without scoring. Hence, we got the likes of Greg Stewart and Alberto Noguera to complement Lallianzuala Chhangte and brought in Diaz as well. That gives us options all around the forward line to always be a threat while going against the opposition.

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