ISL 2016: Players were committed to win the match for the fans, says manager Steve Coppell
After three disappointing results, Kerala Blasters have finally given something for their fans to cheer upon. In their third home match of the ISL 2016, Blasters narrowly edged out Mumbai City FC to a solitary goal, thanks to a low strike from Michael Chopra in the 58th minute.
Steve Coppell made a couple of changes to the lineup, Aaron Hughes replaced Pratik Chowdhary and Sandesh Jhingan was shifted from centre back to play in the right back position and also Duckens Nazon and Antonio German were replaced by Kervens Belfort and Mohammed Rafi in the lineup.
Michael Chopra, the goal scorer, when asked to share his thoughts on scoring his first ISL goal, said- “It is a great feeling I am emotional at the minute, people remember the save from the goalkeeper in the final and then last match goalkeeper pulled off an another good save.
“Today in the first half he pulled off another good save on the goal and I am thinking to myself when is the chance when am I going to score a goal and the chance came in the second half and it is a great feeling to actually score a goal and a great feeling for me to score in India.”
The head coach of Kerala Blasters was asked how Blasters managed to break the Mumbai midfield which was similar to that of Delhi Dynamos where Blasters only managed to salvage a draw, he replied- “The players were driven, they had a point to prove they wanted to really take the game to the opposition.
“We created a lot of chances that’s all we can do; you can’t guarantee scoring goals but if you can setup your play and create opportunities then over a period of time you will get your return.”
He continued- “And half-time it would have been easier I think the players to be discouraged but second half they came out and just kept on going kept on going and the energy in the team was the most impressive thing for me. They wanted to make the fans happy and I hope the fans saw that the players were really committed to the match and win it for the fans.”
When asked to comment on the injury updates in the squad and the partnership between Hughes and Cedric Hengbart, coach quoted- “Well injuries obviously make decisions for you sometimes but we more or less had a full strength squad, Cedric was after the last game I thought, he might be struggling a bit but he is a warrior.
“He works very hard to remain fit and Aaron Hughes flew 15-20 hours from Germany and as soon as he came back he said I want to play so a solid defensive unit was very important to play and that gave us a base from which we could play forward.”
He continued to pour his praise on players as he quoted- “Chopra was significant and Belfort was also significant. Rafi was terrific down the middle and then everyone else played their part. If you are going to be a successful team you would need everyone to do that role well.”
Coppell was also vocal when asked about the role of Michael Chopra in the team, saying- “Michael Chopra is a player with vast experience now. He knows situations in the course of the game, if we are under pressure he can come and help the midfield and if we have good possession he can find those little pockets that defenders don’t like to go into.
“And I must stress he has really worked hard on his fitness. He has got big contributions to make to this team.”
Kerala Blasters will take on Pune City FC in their next fixture at Pune’s home turf on 17th October.