We have to take our chances: NorthEast United FC assistant coach Paul Groves

NorthEast United FC assistant coach Paul Groves said the opening goal changed the outcome of the game as NEUFC suffered a 0-3 loss to Kerala Blasters at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, in Guwahati, on Saturday. Dimitrios Diamantakos' breakthrough goal and substitute Sahal Abdul Samad's brace inflicted a fifth defeat of the season on the Highlanders.

The result sees the Highlanders remain rooted to the bottom of the Hero ISL table. Groves felt that his side were alive in the game till the 65th minute, but lost momentum after that. The Englishman further called for his side to convert their chances and take the game to the opposition.

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

Another disappointing result for the side and it’s in consecutive games that team lost at home by three goals. What do you think is going wrong for the team?

I think for 65 minutes, the game was at 0-0 and it was relatively fair for both sides and we restricted them to very few opportunities. I think the game changes when that first goal goes in and goals change games. However, you look at it, it completely changes it, and there on you are trying to chase the game and you’re vulnerable at the counter. That, in the end, was the story of the game. I believe for the 65 minutes we had one or two opportunities, we went through one-on-one with the goalkeeper and we have to take those chances because if we don’t, then we would face an uphill battle. For large parts of that game, there was not much into it, but after the first goal goes in, it changes everything.

Do you think you are missing the quality upfront?

I feel that we’re missing qualities to create opportunities. Whether it is about crosses that are played in the box or when we’re putting crosses or we’re one-on-one with an opponent, whether it’s a little bit of magic. We created lots and lots of chances, and the game was fairly even for 65 minutes. But once the first goal goes in, it completely changes everything. We are creating changes though.

Do you feel inexperience plays a part with players? As we saw Pragyan Gogoi playing for NorthEast United FC, playing for the first time in Hero ISL. So does that play a part?

Of course, it does. When you have players that are relatively young, finding their way in Hero ISL and you have three, four, five of them, etc then the lessons can be harsh, and sometimes that has been the case. Whether it’s your first season in the Hero ISL, your first or fifth match, the quality of the delivery, or the quality of taking the opportunity when it arrives; that’s where experience, composure, and all those ingredients come in for you to score that goal and that’s the hardest thing to do in football.

Any words on your defense? The defense has looked shaky and made some errors, errors that proved costly. What do you think?

I think for 65 minutes, defensively as one unit, we limited them. When you push bodies forward to find the goal, you have to gamble. We had to push for that goal and we did have an opportunity where we could’ve scored the goal. We didn’t score and when you start to chase the game, big open spaces can create problems for you. I don’t think up to that point they created many chances, the structure was intact but you have to score the goal and you have to put the (opposition) team at the back and start asking questions in respect to them chasing the game, but that wasn't the case.

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