Head coach David James is not pleased with the result but finds solace in the fact that they lost their two games against two of the best teams in the league.
“It’s a bit easy to take the last two defeats as they have come against two of the best teams in the league. It’s difficult to come back into the game after conceding an early goal. Then we conceded one in the last kick of the first half. I think we were better in parts in the second half. It’s very frustrating. You need to be at your best when you’re playing against the best teams in the league and I think that we were just short," said James.
The Englishman spoke at length about the options on his bench. James believes that bench strength has never been an issue for Kerala.
He said, “Rakip caught something in the second minute and he still played through the pain for the entire first half. This is the type of commitment we need from the players. Then we had to make an unplanned substitution which affected our play.
“I’m not worried about the bench. Deep was put on the bench because of what he’s been doing in the past ten days. If the players are putting in effort in the training sessions, they are at least getting into the squad.
“The quality of the finishes by Coro is unquestionable. I think he is the best player in the league. Give him the opportunity and he’ll punish you. We spent most of the game chasing. I think the substitutes did well. Doungel did well and Vineeth even had a shot on target. The bench strength wasn’t an issue, we had enough quality on the bench. The first half didn’t go as planned, I’ll have to look at the tapes and see what went wrong.”
CK Vineeth was at the end of some backlash from the fans on social media but James mentioned that this had no bearing on his team selection.
He said, “CK Vineeth is a key player for us. He has already scored two goals for us and I think he is our top goalscorer. I don’t worry when he’s on the pitch and if I did, he wouldn’t be on the pitch. He got into scoring positions today and probably would have got a goal any other day. I think we have the best fans in the league but we need to accept that not every fan has to like every player.”
Vineeth was introduced to try and get something from the back. James defended his substitutions and mentioned that Samad will get his chance when Kerala look to control the game rather than chase it.
“Today was a big game. We are seventh in the league and we need to treat every game like a big game. Goa are one of the best ball-playing teams and we are not as good as them at that. If we tried beating them at their own game, we would have been smashed apart. When we were 2-1 down, I needed an attacker and not a ball-player like Samad. That is why I went with Vineeth.
“The start of the season was ‘ok’ with a win and a couple of draws. But now it’s not ‘ok’. We have 12 days to get things right. Then it’s time to start getting some points.”