Vingada full of praise for players as Coppell bemoans cruel late-goal

Kerala Blasters FC scored two minutes from full-time to deny ATK three crucial points at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi. A smart Edu Garcia free-kick in the 85th minute had put the visitors in command of the match but were pegged back by a Gerson Vieira own-goal. The point leaves ATK in sixth and three points adrift of the final playoff place. Kerala, likewise, remain in eighth with 10 points on the board.

Tending to his post-match duties, the Blasters head coach Nelo Vingada began by first thanking the fans who attended the match following which he took questions from the media.

Answering a question on his team’s poor home form, the Portuguese said, “We have to understand that the players are human beings. I believe the players still don’t have the right confidence to play. If you win one or two games, this confidence can come back. With confidence, this team can play 30 per cent more and maybe with more time working, maybe 10 per cent more. But I have to be honest. I have to say that many things the team did today came from the past. The players I think feel much better now.”

The Blasters were once again guilty of conceding a late goal which almost cost them had it not been for Vieira’s own-goal. The 65-year-old, however, felt that his players were not at fault for Edu Garcia’s late striker, which he described, as a clever trick. “Their goal was from a free-kick. The player was very smart. He kicked the ball intentionally near the ground. I think now the mental approach of the players is to win. To watch a game without spectators to be honest made me unhappy. I think the players deserved more spectators. I have no doubt that this team is ready to accept any chances. The players can play anywhere and not feel inferior to any team,” he added.

Vingada’s opposite number and ATK boss, Steve Coppell had a different assessment of the match. The Englishman felt that the Blasters’ pragmatism made it difficult for his players to play through. “I think it was a question of that. We had an awful lot of possession. When we looked up, we saw a lot of yellow shirts. They had an awful lot of people behind the ball. But then they were very good at breaking out from their position. We gave the ball away too cheaply too often. But its difficult to break. My two center-halves look up, can’t find the center-forward. Edu Garcia occasionally. Wide players were coming in trying to receive the ball. But there were a lot of yellow shirts behind the ball. We didn’t have a cutting-edge except Edu,” Coppell said.

Conceding a goal two minutes from the end of the match must have been hard to digest for the two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions. Coppell too, admitted that the mood inside the dressing room was a deflated one. He said, “At the moment our dressing room feels as if we have been beaten because there wasn’t much to choose between the teams. It wasn’t an attractive game. When we got our noses in front with four minutes to go, I thought we can’t ask for a better position. They were bound to throw men forward. The goal, I think, came off Gerson Vieira. If we could have got three points here, it would have a really good springboard for us to push on. We just have to be better to make the playoffs. We’ll keep pushing.”

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