Chennaiyin FC secured a crucial point in a tough encounter as they shared the spoils with arch-rivals Bengaluru FC in a 1-1 draw in their first home game of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 season at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, in Chennai, on Friday.

Roy Krishna saw his header cancelled out by Prashanth K late into the first half. The Blues had an advantage in the latter stages of the game when Chennaiyin FC goalkeeper Debjit Majumder received a red card, but the hosts held fort and managed to pull off a draw.

Read: Spirited 10-man Chennaiyin FC hold rivals Bengaluru FC to 1-1 draw

The Marina Machans’ head coach Thomas Brdaric was disappointed with his side’s performance during the opening exchanges, but praised his team’s fighting spirit despite being put under pressure on several occasions during the game.

Here are the excerpts from Brdaric’s post-match press conference:

Your thoughts on the game including the red card?

Generally, when you take a point against Bengaluru FC, you can be satisfied. But on the other side, if you see the game, there was a lack of concentration in the beginning. We didn’t mark their players and let them score. We gave the ball away easily and misplaced some simple passes, especially the first 10 minutes. I was a bit surprised because we were playing at home. We have confidence and have done well (in Chennai) in the past. But you see the challenge and in the beginning you must be very concentrated, a little bit experienced and be patient. We made simple mistakes.

But the way we bounced back, it gives me good hope for the upcoming games.

We created more chances, we deserved more. We scored a bit later in the first half, but we could have scored earlier. We invested so much effort and we sacrificed (our play) in the last 20 minutes of the game. We should learn from this game and in the end, we carry on with four points.

Thoughts on Prasanth’s performance?

He's a pretty good guy with good experience. He can help us with his finishing. He can improve in some areas, and we spoke about it (since he joined the squad) and he has improved very quickly. He has a very good understanding and he made quick decisions after the first game. He scored the goal and we are happy with him.

How big of a role did the fans play in the comeback?

The fans were pretty good. I like it. And let’s continue with that and I hope everybody can get affected with this (energy), the atmosphere, and maybe next week against FC Goa, we can get more fans to the stadium to join our matches. The attitude of the team is right. We are humble all the time. We are hard working and we know that there are a lot of challenges in the coming weeks. And when you stick together with fans, the players are able to play in the best professional way. It’s a good sign.

Vafa (Hakhamaneshi) took Debjit’s place in goal. The thought behind that?

We couldn’t make any more changes after Debjit went off. We chose our substitutes earlier in the game, and Devansh (Dabas) wasn't able to come on.  We had to decide very quickly and we had two options, Fallou (Diagne) or Vafa. Vafa did a good job in the last minutes and he saved some good shots. In the end, we have one point and we need to carry on.

Did you expect this crowd support coming into this game?

We all have struggled in the last two years due to the pandemic. (But with the return of fans), it is brilliant for football. On the way to the stadium, I saw the fans exploding. I was very impressed with how they welcomed us here in the stadium. We want to pay back everything with the positive signs that we received off the pitch. They pushed us very well. In football, it's not only the team that plays better or creates more chances (that wins the game). We have to be more effective and we will work on that. I want to say thanks to the fans for a really great atmosphere.

Are you going to stick with the same line up?

I'm a coach who doesn't like to change a lot of things. We have been working very hard for three months together, and I rely on my players and everybody deserves to be in the starting eleven. Kwame Karikari had a little issue with his calf and his opportunities were limited. That's why he got less minutes. I ask my players to play at a high-intensity level, to work (hard), create opportunities, and be in the moment when they have to be there. We need to stick with them and rely on them. This is our strength and this will give them the confidence to improve.

Do you think the team feeds off the confidence the players give each other?

Yes, but in football, you also need some luck. You also need power and some of the players are behind. They had some injuries and are struggling with their preparation. And to deliver, you have to deliver at the right moment. We had some substitutes and we could deliver a good performance against Bengaluru FC. That is why you need everything in balance and everyone will get their opportunities. I told my players we have a big squad and everybody will get the opportunity to prove themselves and be an important part for the team. We as a coaching staff have good knowledge and experience. We need to give the players the right opportunities at the right moment.

How different is football in Germany compared to what you have experienced in India?

It’s another continent. It's another football, but I liked the attitude of the players in India and you want to develop the Indian players (as a coach). Foreigners are here to improve the level, but here (with Indian players), we have a lot of potential. We have good Indian players.They have to use this experience to their advantage to to show themselves and to also show in the future that they're able to play professional football in India on a high level.

But you have to be ready for that. It’s not so simple to bring some players and play. I have to watch out at the right moment who is fit to play and judge the training sessions and try to improve all the time. Chennaiyin FC had good merits in the past and have bounced back. It’s hard work, and we can carry on every day with belief in our owners, fans and our players.