Bengaluru FC could become first table-toppers to win ISL: Kerala Blasters coach David James
After Bengaluru FC dashed Kerala Blasters' hopes of qualifying for the playoffs with a 2-0 win at home, Kerala coach David James lamented his side's inability to put away chances and see the game out after 90 minutes.
Bengaluru only managed to score in injury time but two quick-fire goals from Miku and Udanta Singh ended the visitors' run in the ISL this season with no hope for the Blasters to qualify for the semi-finals when three points were the need of the hour to stay alive.
"For 90 minutes, I think that was a fantastic performance by us," James said. "Bengaluru deserve to be top of the league because they're a quality side and they proved that today by scoring two goals in injury-time.
"It's tough. The team is dejected in the changing room, as you can imagine, because we were so close to getting a point in the game which we thought we dominated.
"But football's cruel, like life. All it takes is one opportunity where good teams will take advantage and I can't think of a shot they had on target before that - a proper shot or a proper chance - and Miku does what he seems to be doing best at the moment. Credit to Bengaluru and their players because they did well today to win the game.
When asked about what Kerala could have done differently this season to qualify for the playoffs, James opted to speak about only the period when he took over the squad.
"It's annoying to sit here and talk about a 2-0 defeat in injury time because otherwise I would have been talking about a fantastic performance and a well-deserved point against the best team in the league.
"I think it's a testament to how well my squad of players have been this season since I've had them. Unfortunately we lost Courage [Pekuson] - he probably would have started. The players have improved, but not enough since we didn't get any points out of the game.
"It's sad that we have to wait for a few days to find out what happens with Mumbai [City] and Chennaiyin to whether or not we go into a playoff for the Super Cup."
Only the top six ISL team qualify for the Super Cup and Mumbai City are just two points behind Kerala with a game in hand. They play Chennai on Saturday.
"Hopefully losing is a valuable lesson for any player in the development of their career. Hopefully they'll understand how precious extra-time is when giving opportunities to good teams when it comes to winning or drawing games."
Will all the players such as Dimitar Berbatov and Wes Brown also be playing in the Super Cup, though?
"I have to have a conversation with all players because I'm sure you're well aware that the Super Cup wasn't on the agenda when most of the players were signed to play in the ISL this year. I hope they will because they're part of the Kerala Blasters squad and we want to win that."
Bengaluru could become first table-toppers to win ISL: James
Speaking about the semi-finals, James did say that the Blues could change the trend where table-toppers have failed to win the cup in the previous three seasons.
"Good luck to the four teams that end in the top four. We know how it works in the ISL - if you finish top you generally don't win. They might prove themselves to be the first team to do that.
"They are a very good outfit and considering they've got AFC games to consider during the season as well - again it's a testament. I think going forward for next season, teams will have to look at how Bengaluru have handled themselves this season so far."