Reigning champions Mumbai City FC sealed a victory over Chennaiyin FC on Sunday after Vikram Pratap Singh tucked home a late winner at the PJN Stadium in the Indian Super League (ISL). With the loss, the Marina Machans are three points adrift of fourth-placed Jamshedpur FC having played two more matches.
However, head coach Bozidar Bandovic lauded the effort of the Chennaiyin FC players and said:
"It's difficult but we played a good game with good effort and good character on the field and we had moments. The boys did everything but it's difficult at this moment. But, of course, there is still a chance [to make it to the semi-finals]."
In their previous encounter, Chennaiyin FC blew a two-goal lead against SC East Bengal after conceding a late equalizer. The Marina Machans also allowed Mumbai City FC to score late into the second half on Sunday. Asked for the reason behind conceding such late goals, Bandovic said:
"Today, we lost the ball when we had the ball. We were all alone and it was one moment of transition. It shouldn't happen and we should avoid this but I can't hold anything against the boys as they played a good game against a very good team."
Vladimir Koman missed the clash against the Islanders owing to an injury. Asked if Chennaiyin FC missed the presence of the star midfielder, the head coach said:
"Of course, if you look at the opponent and how we played against a very good opponent without one of our best players you could see that it was difficult. The boys did very well. I don't know [when Koman will be back]. I am waiting for the medical team to tell me on Monday or Tuesday if he will be available for the next match."
The detailed ISL fixtures are available here.
"I'm very happy with the players" - Des Buckingham after Mumbai City FC's win against Chennaiyin FC
Mumbai City coach Des Buckingham, on the other hand, was visibly elated after his side ended their seven-game winless streak and also strengthened their semi-final chances with the victory.
After the game, Buckingham was reminded that even in their previous encounter against Chennaiyin FC, the winner had come through Rahul Bheke exactly in the 85th minute. He responded:
"It's got a nice ring to it. Yes, I said it was only a matter of time, I’m very happy with how we've actually been playing. I think we've created enough chances this evening to win three or four games in one go. So I was very happy with the players and most of the reaction."
"I spoke before the game about creating momentum. I'm very happy with how we did what we did last week, considering everything we've gone through in the last couple of weeks. To come out and get that important goal as late as it was, I am very happy.
During the 90 minutes, Chennaiyin FC couldn't even register a single shot on target. Speaking about the same, Buckingham said:
"It's a funny game, isn't it? We went through a couple of games where we conceded quite a few goals. We've worked on the defensive side of our game a lot but it's not just the back four. We were able to field a consistent backline today for the first time I think in a while."
"It's the work right that started from the front. And it's the whole team in possession and out of possession that's contributed towards that clean sheet which is now our fourth I think of the season."