We created enough chances to win the game: MCFC head coach Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham was pleased with his side’s performance despite being held by ATK Mohun Bagan in a 2-2 draw in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) at the Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai, on Sunday.

Lallianzuala Chhangte gave Mumbai City FC an early lead before ATK Mohun Bagan equalised through Mehtab Singh's own goal in the second half. Rostyn Griffiths then saw his goal cancelled out by substitute Carl McHugh as 10-man ATKMB secured a point.

The Englishman heaped praise on his team for being brilliant throughout the first half, but said his side’s defensive performance in the second half decided the outcome of the game.

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

You spoke a lot about defensive solidarity. Do you think the team lost its shape in that respect, particularly in the second half?

We took the chances that we should have taken and created enough chances to win the game. We hit the crossbar three times and the post once towards the end. And there are numerous times that we should have probably scored.

We put ourselves in a comfortable position at half-time, which makes the second half easier. But we continued to play the way we know in the second half. The problem in football is that the opposition will get chances, and unfortunately for us, they scored from a free-kick. We need to make sure about creating chances, put the game to bed earlier and make it easier for ourselves, and make sure we defend well till the end.

Was there any specific plan based on how you thought they would shape up?

We do not change our approach too much no matter which opposition we play. ATK Mohun Bagan are a wonderful side. They have a good coach, and they will be right up there at the end of the season.

We played brilliant football not only in the first 20 minutes, but for the entire first half, and in the beginning of the second half, the first 10-15 minutes, they were right on top of their game, and they turned the tie in their favour and got the goal.

But we got control of the game again. We have more than one way to play with the ball. There is a big difference from last year, and if the opposition tries to exploit us by playing their style, then we would make changes. We have to be smart and clever about how the opposition would fare. As long as we do that, we will be strong and effective.

After the start that you had, what allowed ATK Mohun Bagan to come back into the game?

In football, the momentum does swing, and you have to try and capitalise when you have it by your side. In the latter parts of the game, we certainly couldn't. The pleasing thing for me is that we had the momentum on our side for the majority of the game, but when we do not have it, we need to make sure to be definitively solid and sound.

How do you handle situations when a player is unhappy after being subbed off?

All the players are unhappy when they are subbed off because they do not like to leave the field, which is the reality of professional football. The beauty of this sport is that we have quality players on the team to fight for positions and fight for space on the field. We saw these in the previous games, and tonight again, we will need the full squad and not just the individuals, and the people in this group do know what they represent.

With each passing game, more fans are turning up at the stadium. Given the backing from the fans, do you think the players can play more freely?

We have a perfect environment for the players. We want them to express themselves and not feel uncomfortable in our environment, which is a very positive one. It is not so much about the head coach and the hierarchy; we are close to each other in the playing group, as are the fans, and everyone can see that on the field.

I am glad as a coach to watch the players enjoy the game and not worry about other things so as to play the way they want. That was the case for large periods of the game tonight.

Mumbai City FC scored early tonight. Is it the plan to set the pace early and get the ball rolling?

We have the knack of scoring early, and in the last couple of games we got off to a really good start. The important thing is to know that we are a team that can score and score from many areas.

What is your opinion on the changes you made tonight, particularly substituting Sanjeev Stalin off?

We took Sanjeev off, because he has played very well in the last couple of games, but he is a young player. I have coached a lot of young players in my coaching career, and sometimes you have to manage them because their form might dip. I felt that ATK Mohun Bagan were targeting our left-hand side in our first half, so we decided to put an extra man and bring in an experienced player like Mandar (Rao Dessai). I was happy with how he came and performed.

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