Kerala Blasters' 3-0 defeat to FC Goa at the Fatorda Stadium on Monday meant the Gaurs became the second team to book a 2018-19 Indian Super League (ISL) playoff spot.
Nelo Vingada, head coach of the Kochi-based side, gracious in defeat was all praise for Goa. "First of all, congratulations to FC Goa because they reached the semi-final and also because they prove, with the quality of (their) football, they were the best team.
"Even though I considered the result a little bit heavy, we didn't play so bad to lose 3-0. I believe the second goal was like the key of the game. The first goal was a mistake by us. Football is all about making mistakes and without mistakes (there are) no goals," he poured his thoughts on the game.
"For me, until now, Goa was the best team against whom we played. We were not too bad, to be honest. In all the game, we had two or three good moments as well. Before the first goal, we had a goal. I don't know if it was off-side or not. Even if it was off-side, it was very well played," he said in relation to the disallowed first half goal by Slavisa Stojanovic when the scoreline was still goalless.
"Our reaction in the beginning of the the second half was very positive. We tried to do our best but (we have) no arguments. I am proud with the work of my players but Goa was fantastic - no doubt about that."
Teenage goalkeeping sensation Dheeraj Singh having kept a cleansheet in their last game, shipped in three on the night. Goa's second goal which Edu Bedia scored came following a howler from the 2017 U17 World Cupper.
"When you have some young players in the team, you have to be prepared for some mistakes. It's a process to learn, develop and become better. If you watch goalkeepers like (Hugo) Lloris and (Thibaut) Courtois, they also make mistakes. The pass was very intense. It was unlucky because the touch could have come for one of our players but unfortunately it went to one of their players in front of our goal," the Portugese defended his custodian.
Ninth on the table with just a game to go, Vingada was asked what his side were lacking other than profligacy in front of goal, which was evident aplenty against Goa. "We have to recognise that Goa is better and they were better today. For example, Bengaluru is better than Kerala but in the game we played against them, we were better than them.
"This Goa team is playing with most of the players for the second year, consecutively. They are working with the same staff and same players for two seasons and we can see these things in the game," the former Saudi Arabia manager replied.
"I could say that we played three days ago or our hotel was two hours away from the stadium, but no excuses. Even when we played where the hotel was besides the stadium, Goa was better than us."
"I was very optimistic that we could make a good game without big mistakes. Sometimes we make mistakes but not so big but today, as I told you, the first goal was very good. The second goal was our mistake and when you make a mistake against such good teams, it's difficult to have a good result," he concluded.