A 2-1 defeat to NorthEast United meant that Kerala Blasters are without a win after their 2-0 triumph against ATK in the opener of the Indian Super League (ISL).
Head coach David James was happy with his substitutions but frustrated to lose on the finest of margins.
“We went with a 3-5-2 formation which naturally looked like a back four depending on which side they were attacking from. We defended tremendously well to keep it 0-0. I think the substitution worked and Matej scored the goal from Zakeer’s corner. I think we were doing well. The six minutes comes up and it went down from there.”
James rued some of the decisions his players had to make on the field and maintained that the referees did a fair job.
“The atmosphere in the dressing room is devastating of course. To lead against a top team away from home and conceding late is never great. I think it’s the decisions that cost us the game. No complaints about the penalty I think it was a fair one. The decision to go in for the tackle like that was difficult and I think the forward was inviting the opportunity to go down. I have nothing to say about the referees on that one. Then it was 1-1 and the momentum swung in their favour.”
It was bad decision making and not complacency that dealt Kerala the loss according to the Englishman.
“I don’t think our players became complacent after scoring the goal. You need to avoid giving your opponent an easy opportunity to score a goal and giving penalties away is one of them.”
Kerala have now lost their third game on the trot and James believes that if they need to step up in the upcoming fixtures if need to challenge for the playoffs.
“The plan was always to win the games and make our way to the play-offs. The way we structured our recruitment this season was more of a longer-term plan than instant success. The next game against Chennai is massive. If we are to stand a chance to make it to the play-offs, we need to beat them.”
“Then we need to do well in the remaining four games before Christmas. If we don’t get the wins, it will become difficult later in the season to make it to the playoffs. Once again, we’ve proved that we’ve got the quality but it’s the final five or six minutes that’s letting us down.”