Kerala Blasters FC assistant coach Frank Dauwen expressed his delight after his side opened their account for the Indian Super League (ISL) 2023-24 season with a hard-fought victory against Bengaluru FC by 2-1 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Thursday.

Kerala Blasters FC went up by 2-0 in the second half after an own goal from Keziah Veendorp and Adrian Luna’s goal before substitute Curtis Main reduced Bengaluru FC’s deficit with a goal in injury time.  

Dauwen was happy for himself and his players and lauded the support of the home crowd, who turned up in large numbers for their first game of the season.  

“It’s a great feeling (to get this win). When you see how many people there way and the way they are supported. Also as a coach, it's amazing, but also for the players, it's amazing to play with this crowd. Fantastic,” Dauwen said in the post-match press conference. 

Kerala Blasters FC struggled to create chances in the opening half, but eventually found their feet as the game progressed. Dauwen mentioned how the opening goal impacted his team’s morale.  

“The first game of the season is always difficult so you have to see (how the team is performing). We started in a good defensive way and then on the ball, we created more chances. But in the first half, only the defensive phase was good. When we had the ball, it was more difficult (to create). But then we scored from a set-piece with a corner and then it was easier,” he explained. 

“Luna (scored after a) mistake from the goalkeeper and then we had everything in our hands,” the Belgian assistant coach added. 

Kerala Blasters FC opened their account through an Adrian Luna corner. Veendorp fluffed his clearance, with the Dutchman finding the wrong side of the net. Luna was again involved as he pounced on a loose pass from Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and tapped into an open net for KBFC’s second goal. Veendorp explained how his side needed to be offensive from open play, but was pleased with their defensive work.   

“We have to work on it (creating and scoring from open play). But set pieces are also important. When you see how many goals are scored from set pieces in games, it's very important,” he explained.

“In open play, we can be better. In the defensive phase, we were very good. They (Bengaluru FC) didn't have good chances and possibilities. So defensively we were good, but offensively we have to work on it,” he added. 

Dauwen mentioned how injuries impacted the team with the likes of Ishan Pandita, Dimitrios Diamantakos and Marko Leskovic not included in the matchday squad, but was overall delighted with the result despite the difficult circumstances. 

“We were six-eight players less. Only for the last two weeks (during the pre-season camp) in Dubai, players were back. It’s normal that we need more time in the offensive way to create chances. But the first game is important and the only thing that counts is the three points.” he said.