United Sikkim conceded a late goal to play out a 1-1 draw in an I-League match against Pailan Arrows on Monday afternoon at Kalyani Stadium, Kolkata. Coach Nathan Hall was pleased with the way his team has fought, but also expressed his concern about conceding late goals.
“In the first half, they (Pailan) were on the top of us. We defended very well at that time. The defense was resolute. The boys fought very hard at that time. In the first 45 minutes, we could never get into the game properly.
“As the game started after the break, we were back into the game quite impressively. The boys looked relaxed and the passing also got better. We created more chances and I believe that we were the better team in the second half. We had them on the back foot probably for the first 35 minutes and also scored a good goal. Then unfortunately in the last 10 minutes, the boys took it a bit simple and we conceded. I think overall a draw is a fair result. They were the better team in the first half. We came back well as the game progressed,” he said.
Hall also stressed on the fact that his team is in a dire need of winning a few games which shall go a long way in boosting their confidence.
“The result is somewhat disappointing because I had told my boys before the game that this is a must-win game. You know that the position we are in now is not the best and we need to pick up as many points as possible. So, it would have been better if we could clinch more than a point. But I am happy with the effort. We only need a little bit more quality in the final third,” he mentioned.
The Australian stressed that the winless streaks his team has gone through in the season hasn’t helped their cause.
“We do all the hard work throughout the week. We practice every move. But then we pick out only one point at the game. This is very frustrating. But in these hard times, we must stick together and fight. We can only stay positive and hope that we get out of this situation as soon as possible.”
The coach conceded that his team needs a positive striker and told that they are on way to sign new players. “Yes, we are interested in a Spanish player. I hope his ITC (International Transfer Certificate) will get done by this week so that he can play from our next match. We are probably also bringing in a new Australian player, who is now finalizing his VISA. He can play anywhere in the midfield.”
Hall, the youngest coach of the I-League remarked that they will desperately look for wins in the next couple of matches. “We need to win now. I hope to guarantee six points from the Shillong (Lajong) and ONGC game. We are only a few points away from going out of the relegation zone and a couple of wins can act as a major confidence booster. I am very hopeful about avoiding relegation.”
When asked about the reasons for this dismal performance of the team throughout this season, Hall claimed, “We have the lowest budget among all the teams. 80% of my players are playing in the I-League for the first time. I have only a bunch of 25 players to work with. Ten days ago against Dempo, I had eight of my players injured and was short of defenders. I had to play four games in less than two weeks. It’s a new experience for everybody.
“The players are also going through a learning process. We have played well in many a match. Like in the Mumbai match we should have won, whereas we should’ve secured at least a point versus Pune. We are getting better. Only time will tell if we are too late. The only task for the boys now is to stay positive and give their 100%. We need a bit of luck only,” the coach signed off.
United Sikkim are now in the danger of relegation and have only Mohun Bagan below them in the league table.
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