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The Pune FC coach though, still maintains that the team could make a title challenge, while ruing the absence of Jeje Lalpekhlua, who was out with an injury...

Pune FC failed to bounce back from the loss against Prayag United with a win, as they were held to a 0-0 draw by ten-man Sporting Clube de Goa on Sunday evening.

Derrick Pereira was visibly disappointed after the full-time whistle, but felt that apart from some bad finishing, time-wasting tactics of his opponents lead to the deadlock.

“I am disappointed about the result and how we started the first half. We didn’t start the way we wanted, but in the second half we did well and created some chances. I am more disappointed about how (opposition) players were going down. This is one issue that people governing the game should have a look at. If a player is given a yellow card for simulation in an opponent’s box, then these players who go out and come back like this should be treated similarly, it breaks the rhythm (of the other side).

“We had also had chances and we should have finished the game off. But it was one of those games,” the Pune FC coach added.

While Oscar Bruzon and his wards had protested Rovan Pereira’s sending quite vociferously, the former Mahindra United head coach had not doubts that it was a sending off indeed. He stated, “It was a fair sending off. For the first card he handled deliberately, and for the second booking, I think he kicked our player from behind. Infact before that, several high, studs-up tackles were ignored so they could have been 2-to-3 man down if the referee had not taken a lenient view.”

Perhaps the main reason the Red Lizards could not make their advantage count was the indifferent performance of a couple of senior players like Sukhwinder Singh and James Moga.

About Sukhwinder, who has played for every club that Derrick Pereira has coached, the 50 year-old felt that the midfielder alone wasn’t responsible for a slow start by Pune FC, while he revealed that Moga’s injury was holding the striker back.

He reasoned, “We have got many matches to play and have to rotate the squad. I think he did okay and will get better. The midfield didn’t function too well at the start, but it was not his (Sukhwinder’s) fault only.”

“Today Moga was carrying a hamstring injury and was not fully fit, but I am happy he continued. His presence creates panic in the opposition, he gives us a lot of trust upfront, and that’s the reason he is there. He wasn’t upto the mark today but worked hard,” Pereira continued.

The Pune FC coach also defended his side’s tactics of playing a more direct style of football on the day, while admitting the team missed the presence of Jeje Lalpekhlua, who is out injured. He said, “That is the strategy (looking for Moga with long-balls), when teams press too high, we try putting pressure by playing a long ball to Moga and it has worked before.”

“In the striking area, Jeje’s presence would have made a difference and that does affect us,” the 50 year-old further added.

The Red Lizards’ coach was though, not ready to give up on the side’s title hopes and opined, “There are a lot of matches to go and points to gather, especially at home. I'm sure other teams will also lose, so we have to stay focused and gain points.”

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