Indian Arrows had a disappointing start to their I-League campaign as they were thrashed 4-1 by Chennai City at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Coimbatore on Friday. Spanish striker Pedro Manzi stole all the limelight for the South Indian outfit as he bagged a hat-trick which included a spot-kick as well.
Arrows coach Floyd Pinto criticized the penalty decision given against his side and termed it as the turning point of the match.
"I don't think it was a penalty. It was too much. The penalty I think changed the game. Asish's (Rai) hand was in a natural position when he slid in. The referee did not give a penalty but the linesman did. I think he was in a much better position to give the penalty than the linesman," reasoned the coach.
But Pinto was happy with the intensity that his boys showed on the pitch and lauded the quality of Chennai City's foreigners.
"We were in the game till 2-1. Obviously, the quality of the foreigners in Chennai City was great. The difference between us and them were their foreigners. We played with intensity throughout the 90 minutes. They won all the 50-50 balls though. The through passes that they put were of very high quality and any defence would have struggled. Also these are young boys and they will make mistakes."
Pinto also pointed out the two areas where he would like his team to improve.
"They are matured enough to understand that they cannot concede four goals in any game. They will come back. We need to stop conceding goals but we are encouraged by the number of chances that we created early on. Now we need to be more clinical up front and convert our chances.
"We are not going to be demotivated. We will pick ourselves up and try to get better in the next game."
Chennai City FC coach Akbar Nawas, meanwhile, expressed his happiness at the way his team played but also pointed out areas they need to improve upon.
"Credit to the players, the staff and everyone involved with us for the victory. But there are many aspects of our game that I’m not happy with. We need to improve. We might get into trouble if we ignore this.
"For one it’s a nice victory, but we do need to sit back, look at the videos and reflect what we can improve. The way we started is unacceptable. We were nervous in the beginning but everything changed in the second half. The credit goes to the players for following the instructions clearly.
"I know that the Indian Arrows are a younger team than ours. But we did hae some raw talents and it’s understandable to have some jittery moments in the beginning. But 40 minutes is a long time to settle down and we will be working on it.
"We will try to build on our second half. I’m pleased with the number of chances we created but not completely with the entire performance. We need to give the youngsters some time and coach them. They need to be made aware tactically, of their strengths and weaknesses," stated the coach.
He heaped praise on the foreign contingent and picked out Manzi as the standout performer.
"I’m very happy with Manzi’s performance. It’s the first match and he scored three goals and won the man of the match award. I don’t think it could have been any better for him.
"The Spanish players do deserve some praise for what they’re doing. It’s not easy when you are coming to play in Asia for the first time. To come into a different environment and put in a performance like this, it’s very good. The Spanish players are very important for us.
"Foreigners are required to elevate the level of football in Asian Leagues and it’s actually helping the youngsters improve. For example, the players are learning a lot from (Pedro) Manzi and that’s helping them improve," signed off Nawas.
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