The Indian Arrows recorded only their fourth win in 15 matches in the I-League 2017-18 season when they beat Churchill Brothers by 2-1 courtesy of two injury-time goals by Abhijit Sarkar.
It was a bittersweet moment for Luis Norton de Matos’ boys after suffering late heartbreaks themselves in the reverse fixture against the Goan outfit and in their last match with East Bengal.
“It happens in football, as a player or a coach. For us, we (Indian Arrows) came from two matches which were very difficult to digest. The (reverse tie) match against Churchill Brothers at the last minute (lost 2-0) and the last match against East Bengal in extra time (lost 1-0). As a coach, you have to believe in the mental aspects of the players to believe in the process,” the Portuguese said after the win.
The Arrows coach also lauded the mentality of his squad saying, “The boys are very confident and showed a strong mentality because they ran against the results in all the games, took risks and now have the behaviour of a senior team.”
Norton’s two late substitutes in Sarkar and Boris Singh Thangjam worked like a treat with the latter going on a bombing run down the flank to set up the equalizer.
“In my mind, if I had to put a winger to win the game, it was Boris (Singh) because Boris is very confident and fast. He makes very decisive actions. Today, it's him and Abhijit (Sarkar) who come in and scores two goals. Not always do substitutions work this way,” Matos said about the duo.
Centre-back Anwar Ali impressed at the heart of the defence for Arrows and the youngster stated that the team was now playing as a unit.
“The entire team played well, not just me. We were trying from the first game to focus to win all games. The full squad was not comfortable in the beginning because the team was playing in the league for the first time. Now after so many games, we are feeling comfortable as a unit,” Anwar explained.
“We have conceded a few goals due to defensive errors. So we talked among ourselves and decided that we should not concede more goals like that and go on the offensive,” he added.
Matos’ opposite counterpart Alfred Fernandes, on the other hand, rued the lapse in concentration from his side in the dying minutes.
“(There was a) lapse in concentration. When you think the match is won, this thing happens. Until the final whistle is blown, you can't take anything for granted and we conceded two goals within three minutes,” he said.
“It was not a case of tiredness because we were just stroking the ball around because we knew there were only a few minutes for the final whistle. It can be that too much risk in our defending that cost us, instead of using the long ball in the attacking third. We should have been a little tough on the situation,” the Churchill Brothers coach remarked.
The Goan attributed Arrow’s late surge to fresher legs and praised the youngsters as fully deserving of the win.
“He (Sarkar) was introduced around the 80th minute or so. They had a fresh pair of legs and had nothing to lose. So they (Arrows) put people in front and he (Sarkar) came out with two gems of goals. They played a good game and deserved three points,” he remarked.
Lebanese defender Hussein Eldor was at fault for both goals conceded but Fernandes refused to criticize his defence after some solid showings recently.
“Sometimes defenders making silly happens in football. For me, the defence was always good in all the matches but there are bound to be some mistakes, but these two mistakes cost us two goals,” the tactician said before concluding.