ISL 2017/18: "It's a good point as far as I'm concerned", says Jamshedpur coach Coppell after 1-1 draw
Jamshedpur FC held on for a long time, but in the end, their resistance was broken and they had to ultimately settle for a 1-1 draw away to Chennaiyin FC in the ISL on Sunday evening. The visitors took the lead in the first half with Wellington Priori scoring another beauty. However, Mohammed Rafi snatched a late equalizer for the hosts to make it a point apiece for the two sides.
Jamshedpur FC coach Steve Coppell felt it was a good point
"It's a good point as far as I'm concerned. I think the point probably helps Chennaiyin more than it helps us. But it's still a good point for us. This is a difficult place to come to, Chennaiyin are a very proud team. They weren't going to lay down for us", he said after the game.
Coppell's side were subject to heavy pressure in the second half as the hosts went in search of a goal and the Englishman felt that they didn't find a way of breaking out of it.
"We sustained a lot of pressure in the second half. We didn't really have an out ball. We didn't hold the ball long enough because we were just defending so hard", Coppell said
He felt the draw was a fair result, but added that it would have been nice to take all three points:
"We might have edged this one tonight, but upon reflection I think a draw was a fair result. But it would've been nice for us to get three points. The one point, as I said, helps Chennai more than us. But you know we'd be heartbroken if we'd got no points. And it makes demands of other teams around us to win games now."
With Chennaiyin pressing for an equalizer, it was the substitute Rafi who provided the all-important goal in the 89th minute from a corner. Coppell felt that the substitutions maybe had an effect on the defending:
"Credit to them (Chennaiyin) and praise for my players for being so resilient and staying in there. It's just unfortunate in the end, the marking at the set pieces got a little ragged with people going off, people coming on. It was hard to get messages across."
He also joked about Rafi letting him down: "I obviously know Rafi from Kerala last year. We know he's very good in the air and he let me down by scoring."
Jamshedpur had earlier taken the lead in this contest in the 32nd minute, Wellington Priori yet again supplying the goal. It was a beautifully struck goal from Priori as he unleashed a superb volley from outside the box to beat Chennaiyin keeper Karanjit Singh all ends up.
When asked about Priori's form, Coppell replied,
"Long may it continue, that's all I have to say. He's been a significant difference for us since he's come aboard."
"I said right from day one that we need eight international players. We need that substance from them. And he can play a variety of positions. His goalscoring is just a real bonus for us. That's three he's got now so he's a real threat. And long may that continue. We'll need it", Coppell added.
The point sees Jamshedpur move up to 26 points with two games to go. After Kerala Blasters' win on Saturday, the gap is just two points between them and the Blasters in fifth. And Jamshedpur will finish their league assignments with home games against Bengaluru FC and FC Goa, the first of which is against Bengaluru next Sunday.
"We've done really well in recent games to put ourselves in this position. And to obviously take advantage of that we have to sustain our results to the end of the season", said Coppell talking about the final stages of the league campaign. "Bengaluru are obviously one of the top sides in the league. They qualified before anybody else. They're still playing hard. I fully expect a real difficult game against them. So I'm looking forward to it because if you're going to be in the playoffs you're going to have to do well against the better teams."
On a final note, Coppell also spoke about young forward Sumeet Passi's game who the Englishman selected as the striker for the game.
"Oh, magnificent. For him to come in from the wilderness, he's worked so hard", beamed Coppell when asked about the youngster's showing in the game.
Passi is returning for the first time since being sidelined last summer and Coppell revealed the long journey back the forward had endured.
"Right from day one he's worked on his rehabilitation. He's spent long, long hours in the gym, long hours on the training field by himself trying to make his knees strong after major surgery. He's young enough to have the mentality to be able to do that. It was a real big ask of me today to say to him. I believe it was last April that he was injured. I thought he was going to run out of gas after 50 minutes at most, but he went on for 70 odd minutes. It was only the cramp in the end that meant he had to come off. It was a magnificent effort by Passi, I think he did a fantastic job."
"So tremendous respect for him. He'll be a tired young man tomorrow morning, but he'll be so happy to have got so many minutes under his belt", said Coppell to conclude the press conference."