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Monday, May 20, 2024

I am very proud of players: Mumbai City FC head coach Kratky

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Mumbai City FC head coach Petr Kratky lauded his players’ resilience as they orchestrated a stunning late comeback against FC Goa in the first leg of the Indian Super League (ISL) second semi-final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here in Goa on Wednesday night.

Despite the home side enjoying a solid 2-0 lead until the 89th minute, the game’s climax unfolded dramatically as the Islanders staged a remarkable turnaround, netting three goals in just six minutes and taking advantage in the two-legged semi-final tie.

Boris Singh broke the deadlock for the hosts in the 16th minute, while Brandon Fernandes extended their lead with a superb curling strike, leaving goalkeeper Phurba Lachenpa helpless and giving the Gaurs the upper hand against the Islanders on their home turf.

Mumbai City FC displayed resilience and character to mount a comeback, with Lallianzuala Chhangte netting the first in the 90th minute, followed by Vikram Partap Singh’s equaliser in the next minute. Chhangte scored his second and completed the comeback for the Islanders in the 96th minute.

Despite trailing in the semi-final tie, the visitors maintained dominance in possession, controlling 61% of the ball with an accuracy of 79%. Both teams attempted 16 shots with the Islanders keeping seven on target while the Gaurs managed to keep six shots on target.

Kratky acknowledged the game’s balance and opportunities for both sides but emphasized the need to address defensive lapses to secure a spot in the final.

“First of all, I don’t think that FC Goa dominated the game for all 90 minutes. I’ll disagree with that. But it was an equal game. We know that FC Goa is a quality team. There were good phases for them, and there were good phases for us as well,” Kratky said in the post-match press conference.

“So the game was equal and still to play because the away goals (advantage) doesn’t count, so it’s just a one-goal lead now. We just have to make sure that we don’t concede goals again (in the second leg). Our defence is strong, but our belief in scoring goals is also very high,” he said.

The head coach revealed that he anticipated a very close game in Goa; however, he didn’t expect the match to be high-scoring like this.

Nevertheless, Kratky was delighted with his team’s performance to secure a late winner in this end-to-end match and has urged his players to carry forward the fighting spirit in the second leg.

“It was a good game, a fantastic game to watch with a high-scoring finish. Again, it was an equal game. I didn’t expect there to be five goals. I thought there would be one or two, but you know, the game was like that,” he stated.

“We conceded two goals due to some errors, but again, that happens. We just needed to keep going with belief, and that’s what we did,” he added.

After scoring two goals in quick succession, the Islanders not only levelled the scoreline but also found a positive rhythm that propelled them to bag the 96th-minute winner through Chhangte, keeping the home team and the supporters in awe.

Speaking in context, he explained, “We gained momentum; we scored the goal. So, the boys were back on track with their spirits and beliefs, and we got another one. And then, when I heard the crowd quiet down too, we knew we might score. But again, you know, we worked very hard to just get two goals back. So for us, it was even a success.”

“It’s really good. We actually came back from being 2-0 down away against a very good team, and then we scored because, again, I told them before the game, we have to learn from the Mohun Bagan SG (defeat). We need to come here wanting to win, and that’s what we did, and I’m very proud of them,” he continued.

The Islanders are set to host FC Goa in the reverse leg of the second semi-final match, slated for April 29 at the Mumbai Football Arena.

Kratky foresees another closely contested match on Monday and stresses the importance of staying focused. He further states that his side will embrace a winning approach to clinch their spot in the final on their home turf.

“Again, (it’ll be a) new game for me. It will start from 0-0. And I’m going to win, and I want players to play again to win because this is us; we want to go for it. And I want that mentality there,” he said.

“We had to bounce back after the Mohun Bagan SG match because it was very hard for us. (We’ve to) fight again, because again, (it) will not be an easy game. So we just can’t be mentally weak; we have to be really strong because FC Goa are a quality team, and they were the first on the ladder for half of the season for a reason. They have a quality team, and they can hurt you. But going home in good spirits, (you know), again from 0-0, it’ll start next week,” Kratky signed off.

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