Pleased with the team; Indian players are showing what they’re capable of: Mumbai City FC’s Des Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham was appreciative of his team’s performance despite suffering a 1-0 loss at the hands of UAE side Al Jazira Club in their AFC Champions League group stage matchup at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday.

Match Report: AFC Champions League: Brave Mumbai City FC suffer narrow defeat to UAE's Al Jazira Club

A lone goal from a spot-kick in the 40th minute by Ali Mabkhout paved the way to the three points for Al Jazira, placing the Islanders at the bottom of the table. While being discontented at the erratic decisions made by the referees, Buckingham lauded his players’ temperament for a strong second half show in tandem with expressing displeasure at the unfortunate missed chances.

The Islanders head coach along with goalkeeper Mohamad Nawaz addressed the media during the official post-match press conference.

Here are the excerpts from the coach’s press conference:

What are your takeaways from tonight’s loss against Al Jazira Club?

Buckingham: I think in the second half, we were fantastic, we were incredibly good, we played the last ten minutes with nine Indian players on the field. We created several chances and were unfortunate to not convert them. In the first half, we weren’t able to play our game. We had a very clear cut penalty not given, which somehow was given the other way. Although we didn’t play our style in the first half, we should’ve come into the game with at least a draw at half-time, and then I was extremely pleased with the players on how they reacted going into the second half.

Mumbai City FC play the same side again in four days, what are your thoughts on this game in calculation with the upcoming one?

Buckingham: Yes, we’ve played three games in nine days now, so the players will get a much deserved rest now, to start with. The game kind of slows down a little bit when there’s so much fatigue in the game. But I love playing against these types of teams, they’re champions in their league, they have a lot of experience and have good players, and it perhaps was a real challenge for us tonight. We said we wanted to come here and show what Indian players are capable of doing, and they’ve certainly shown that again this evening. So, we’ll have a look at the game, we’ll adapt and make sure we tighten up a few areas. It’s a game we’re really looking forward to, against a team that has been successful.

Is there any update on Amey Ranawade’s injury?

Buckingham: No, as of now there’s no update available on him yet.

Does the performance in the second half please you despite the result?

Buckingham: This is only the second time we’ve been here and the fact that we’re here talking about how well we’ve played against a champion team, in an extremely tough competition. I'm a bit frustrated at not coming away with a good result and that says everything, in terms of how close we managed to keep the game.

One thing we didn’t do, I think we probably gave them too much respect in the first half and that’s not our game style. Because we started so deep, we didn’t create enough chances on goal. We made changes at half-time to rectify that and I think it worked. We created enough chances to score at least one goal, and coming to penalties, I think there should’ve been another one given, on Vikram [Singh], so a frustrating night. Unfortunate to not come away with at least one, if not two, penalties, and with the chances that we created.

I think when we put things into context, we played against an extremely good team, and as frustrated as I am right now about the result, but I am pleased with the way we reacted in the game, and that speaks a lot about how far we’ve come.

Here are the excerpts from the player’s press conference:

What do you have to say about the match?

Nawaz: It was a difficult match, many players were dealing with fatigue, but still we were giving our best. I don’t know whether it was a penalty or not, and even if it was, it was not a deliberate handball, it was sudden and could’ve been avoided. As the coach said, the first-half we didn’t play as was instructed to us, but in the second half, we had more energy and we played well. But we’re not happy because we couldn’t come away with even a single point

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