Khalid Jamil believes that Mumbai FC missed a great opportunity to seal their first home win of the season against whipping boys Rangdajied United in their I-League round eleven encounter at the Shiv Chhatrapati Shivaji Sports Complex, Pune.
The Mumbaikars found themselves a goal down in the first half thanks to Manandeep Singh, who shot in from close range after an initial David Ngaihte shot rifled off the post. All this happened in the 31st minute. However Mumbai drew themselves level, thanks to sustained attacking pressure in the second half as Ashutosh Mehta finished from close range in the 61st. The win leaves Mumbai FC in 11th while Rangdajied remain bottom of the heap in 13th.
Speaking after the game, Khalid Jamil, retrospectively assuaged any talk of Mumbai continuing to decline, while remaining optimistic about their survival chances. It must be remembered here that Jamil’s side faced a quandary of sorts as they had recently signed four players, namely Mohammed Rafi, N.P.Pradeep, Peter Costa and Khelemba Meetei, from the IMG-Reliance bandwagon, however, the plug was pulled on their participation in the match as their papers weren’t processed on time.
“We did show improvement. The boys reacted to the situation as per requirement. We didn’t have players in the line-up at the last minute. The players who shouldn’t have been there on the pitch, played and they played very well,” explained Jamil.
“I had added them (IMG-Reliance players) to the line-up, however at around 1.45 pm I came to know that they weren’t allowed to play in the 3 pm kickoff. I had been told since yesterday that they would feature, yet last minute regulations didn’t allow me to start them. They had prepared themselves well, even in the morning squad meeting. Pradeep, Rafi, Costa and Khelemba were all supposed to feature in the starting eleven. Ashutosh (Mehta) was only half-fit and should’ve remained on the bench instead and I forced him to play. I had to go into the dressing room and change the squad sheet completely.
"I wanted Haroon (Amiri) to play this game right up top with Rafi and that would’ve been a big change. The official reason was that the AIFF didn’t allow the players to feature, so I didn’t interfere much and wanted to focus on the match. It isn’t very good. We’ve had a bad run of form and now this? It’s very bad. Whoever has done this isn’t good.”
Adding wood to fire, Jamil expounded, “There were all sorts of problems thrown up. Firstly, they tell us that papers aren’t right. Then people say, ‘Peter Costa is playing with us’. Now, we have to find out whose mistake it is.”
Quizzed on what went wrong in the first half when they conceded the goal, Jamil said, “We were keeping the ball in the first half, but there wasn’t an attacking mood in the squad. The defense played well in the aspect of ball retention, however if the midfield had played the ball further ahead, then something could’ve happened. Another reason might be that we went with only one striker up front in the first half, while in the second we went with two up front.”
“We should’ve taken whatever chances we got. We got a few today and we should have clinched them. If we don’t take our chances, it will be a problem,” added the gaffer on being asked whether Rangdajied sat back and allowed Mumbai FC to attack them.
“We should’ve won this game. It would certainly have eased the pressure. But, taking into light the dire situation we found ourselves in and the comeback we made, it was a good performance. But a win is a must now. Whatever matches we play now, a win is a must. The gap between us and the team just above us isn’t a lot. We can make it up,” opined the gaffer optimistically, on his team’s performance and how he would approach the next few games.
Queried on what he believed his squad have been lacking so far, Jamil elucidated, “Anyone will tell you the reason of our misgivings so far. There have been a lot of changes to the squad. Yet however, we did not collapse. We are sturdy though there are a lot of changes. We didn’t get to do what we wanted. The IMG-Reliance players had been training for about ten days and had gotten accustomed to the squad. So, their presence would’ve given us an added advantage in this match.”
“We are working very hard. I can’t blame the players. We haven’t set. The players just aren’t able to settle in. Our win will come, I have that feeling,” concluded the coach.
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