ISL 2017: Kerala Blasters' Rene Meulensteen - Sandesh Jhingan and Nemanja Lakic-Pesic were outstanding

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The Dutchman was satisfied with the result but rued the missed chances his team had in the final third...

On his managerial debut in the Indian Super League (ISL), Rene Meulensteen got his Kerala Blasters side to draw against ATK in the opening game of season four in Kochi on Friday.

"I'm very satisfied with the clean sheet. We defended fairly well. ATK played a good game. Last fifteen minutes of the first half, we created chances. We missed the cutting edge in the final third. It's early days, not easy in these circumstances", the former Manchester United assistant expressed after the 0-0 result.

He added, " You need to have a certain system in terms of your defensive shape and how you want to defend. We started in a 4-1-4-1 with (Dimitar) Berbatov up top. We wanted to get Berbatov on the ball a bit more so we changed that.  Games are decided in the boxes. What we learnt together was a test of character."

Arata Izumi, formerly with ATK and FC Pune City joined the Sachin Tendulkar co-owned side this season was employed in a holding role just in front of the defenders. Though not his natural position, the Dutchman had no qualms about giving him the role."

"We need to look at the age and energy. Arata has played in ISL before in various positions. He has a good understanding of the game. He had a really good game today as well," he commented.

Meulensteen's former charge at Manchester United Wes Brown missed the game owing to an injury and Serbian Nemanja Lakic-Pesic was ushered into the eleven to partner Sandesh Jhingan in the heart of defense. He had high praises for the pair.

Iain Hume Prabir Das Kerala Blasters FC ATK ISL Season 4 2017/2018

"Wes (Brown) had a tight calf in one of the last training sessions which we felt too much of a risk to play him. Lakic and Sandesh were outstanding."

Skippering the side, Sandesh Jhingan was playing his second game within three days of his last with the Indian national side. The former Fulham manager only hoped the chemistry between the captain and his teammates will grow in the future.

"We didn't have Sandesh and the others playing together. The more they play together it's going to be better," he concluded.

Iain Hume, who was unimpressive on his return to the Blasters after two seasons with ATK, had zero shots on target against the team he won the title with last season. However, he believed the share of spoils was a correct measure of the football on the night.

He said, "​A draw is a fair result. Wasnt exactly one for the purists. We kept a clean sheet."
 

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