DESPITE THE LOSS VINGADA was proud of the efforts of his team last night. He praised the committment shown by his players in the season gone by.
Speaking to the press after the game, the NorthEast Heach Coach said,
“First, congratulations to Kerala and also to the fantastic people here in Kochi. Coming to the game, Kerala scored and we did not and we had some good chances and Kerala also created some good chances. Also, thanks to Guwahati and we may not have qualified but we fought till the end, and all teams got a close win against us but I don’t want to say we were unlucky. I believe we won the respect of all teams. I want to also thank John and I hope the future can be better for NorthEast United”
The Head Coach of the last gasp semi-finalists Kerala Blasters, Coppell said,
“We weren’t really under pressure and I would say we had the best chance in the first half with Duckens Nazon and I was glad we got to half time 0-0. I felt if we started the second half okay, then we would lift the game and both teams didn’t really know how to approach it, whether to throw men forward or whether to be secure, and well, the goal broke the ice and I felt the longer the game went, the better we were and stronger we were without being fluent and I just felt the pace and power we have up front would create a couple of chances and it did”
Sharing his views on what he has were his take-aways from the season Vingada said,
“The league is very short and I would like to start the preparations . I believe now the balance of the team is good and we faced all the teams well and put in a good effort, and now I know the league better. In this short season, it important to understand the local football here and it is important to keep the balance of the team. From 2018, we must play according to the rules of the Asian Football Confederation where we play only four foreigners, including one Asian player, so this can be very important for the coaching squad in making the team and also knowing the Indian players better. The only thing I regret is that our preparation period started a bit late. With more time to prepare, we could have done better.”
Kerala had their central play makers pressed well to prevent them from moving freely. To this Coppell shared,
"Well, I think it was a bit of a stalemate in midfield which probably suited them as their midfield probably had a little bit more power with Romaric and Rowllin Borges , and I did not want a game where we had an attack and then they had an attack and I don’t think that would have been so good for us and Ishfaq did well in there around Romaric since he is a potential match winner, and Nicolas Velez not being available obviously helped our cause as he has been a terrific player for them this season and we knew that he was touch-and-go and him not being there I thought was a boost for us.”
Vingada gave his suggestions on improving the standard of the league saying,
“Of course, I have told it many times that we have played four games in 12 days and we played five games in a lot of days’ time. Then two games consecutively away and then home. We can extend the season and play more games as we play in all countries. I believe between games we need time to recover and that’s why I tell you that the preparation period should be longer for us and I believe we could have come here better but we must learn and be better for the future. I believe NorthEast United have good potential to become a good team in India”
Mehtab missed the game after picking up his fourth yellow card therefore missing the last game. If Mehtab's absence was felt in the Kerala gameplay, Coppell replied,
“I don’t think it was missing and in the second half we hit them on the counter-attack a number of times and I think Mehtab has done a tremendous job for us this season playing with Azrack and gives us a nice combination and losing Josu also harmed us and we had to adjust as well and Ishfaq came in and had a tough job to do against Romaric, it was always going to scrappy and it was always going to be ugly”
Coppell continued saying,
“I am thankful that we have got through after losing the first game. The supporters here have seen a number of victories and to finish second has been a tremendous achievement for everybody at the Blasters. I said to the players that listen to the crowd when you are tired and you will grow wings and I think on occasions a couple of players were tired and they grew wings, so a big thank you to the crowds.”
Missing in the last game Velez who picked up an injury during the warm-up. Vingada, on Velez said,
“Nico had passed all the tests and it looked all okay and so he was in the team. Of course during the warm-up he did not feel comfortable and every coach needs a player who is 100% and so I had to make the change. It is part of the game and of course it is sad and I feel Priori played a good game"
Coppell was asked what was his half-time team talk like and he replied,
“I think the players were aware that the game was on a knife-edge and if we didn’t up our performance we could have easily lost it and they were demanding of each other to be a little bit sharper and better… I think there was improvement all around. There was also a mentality improvement,”
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