Blasters Cry Over Spilt Points

Monday, 4 December 2017|Vineeth Krishnan

A beaming Alexandre Guimaraes was easily the manager most pleased with the final result as his Mumbai City FC showed great fighting spirit to earn a deserved draw with the Kerala Blasters at the Jawaharlal Nehru International stadium, here on Sunday. Having gone behind to a 14th minute goal from Markos Sifneos, Mumbai got back on level terms through Balwant Singh in the 76th.

While the Blasters got off to a flying start, scoring their first goal of the season, Mumbai slowly worked their way into the game. “I think we had a very good reaction because it is not easy to come to play here, after a last minute goal against Pune and then Kerala having an advantage in the first 12-15 minutes. So the reaction after that goal was very, very good,” said Guimaraes.

The former Costa Rica player and manager was especially pleased with the strong fitness levels his team displayed. “After the first 15 minutes, we played the way we had to play. (The team) shows that they are fit because this was our third game in a week, and especially that they are mentally strong to fight and come back.”

Meanwhile, for the home team’s coach Rene Meulensteen, this was clearly a case of “two points lost for us, one gained for Mumbai,” as he put it. “It’s disappointing of course. I thought we were positive right from the start. There was urgency, we created a lot of chances and we scored. I think then we lost our way a little bit because of a lot of misplaced passes that gave Mumbai more of a chance to get back in the game. At half-time (we felt) this was a typical game where we need to score another one to secure the three points. So we came out, put them on the back foot and that is where we need to win the game .”

The former Fulham manager rued his team’s poor conversion rate in front of goal. “We created some fantastic opportunities but a lack of composure, and at many times a rush of blood to the head makes you miss those chances. If you create 10 or more good chances, you have to score more than one,” was Meulensteen’s candid assessment of the Blaster’s performance.

Meulensteen also felt that his team could have done better to block Balwant’s effort saying that “it came from our mistake and could have been avoided.” The Dutch tactician also drew attention to the fact that a lot of goals in the ISL are coming off mistakes made by the opponents and said that is something his side also needs to improve on.

For the Blasters, the worrying fact is that in spite of a kind early run of three home matches to begin the season, they are languishing in seventh spot in the table, with just three points to their name. Their first away test at FC Goa awaits on December 9th and Meulensteen and his staff will have to take stock of the options they have available when they take on the in-form Gaurs.

CK Vineeth is ruled out after his red card (for two yellows, the second for diving to try and win a penalty), while fellow Malayali player Rino Anto had to be taken off at half-time with an aggravation of a groin injury he had already been carrying. On the positive side, goalscorer Sifneos should be available after being withdrawn with a bout of cramp and nothing more serious.

Meanwhile, Mumbai City FC are one spot ahead of the Blasters in the league table with four points, but have played a game more. However, having dealt with three away matches in their first four fixtures, Guimaraes and his men will be hoping that the back-to-back home fixtures coming up can be the start of their climb into the playoff spots.

“The fixture for us, was in the beginning, very tough but we managed. We have seen that in this league, all the games are very close. Now, we have to recover well and prepare for the game at home next week. We know we have to be strong (at home) so that sometimes we get the point like we did (away from home) in this game, and that is fantastic,” signed off Guimaraes.