Mumbai City FC seemed to be headed towards a second successive Indian Super League (ISL) defeat on Friday before substitute Pranjal Bhumij salvaged a 1-1 draw for the visitors with a thumping long-distance strike.
The added-time equalizer denied Kerala Blasters the opportunity to go top of the league as Jorge Costa’s men registered their first points on the board.
Speaking post the game, the Portuguese coach expressed his relief in leaving the Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium in Kochi.
“One point is one point in a difficult setup against a very good team. We had only 48 hours to recover. Also, like the first game, better second half than the first half,” the Mumbai City coach stated.
“Sometimes we will have the luck to score in the last minute. Other times, like the last game, we suffer in the last minutes. We took the risks like in the last game and today we got lucky. It wasn't just lucky as it was a wonderful goal,” the former Portugal international added.
A 24th minute strike from Halicharan Narzary had all but handed Kerala the win before the 19-year-old substitute unleashed a thunderbolt of a strike to beat Dheeraj Singh all ends up.
When asked to comment on Bhumij’s display on the night, Costa replied, “When I came to India, they asked me about foreigners. But for me, I don't care. They asked me about the age of players, I don't care.”
“This is my job, whether I am doing it well or not, we will see. My job is to make these choices. Pranjal is a young player, with confidence he can do well.”
Mumbai made four changes to the playing XI from the 0-2 defeat against Jamshedpur FC at home. With the games coming in thick and fast in the ISL, Costa believes rotation will be a common theme throughout their campaign.
“We had a pre-season, which was for me, not perfect. We played on Tuesday and today on Friday. We needed to make the flight. And I wanted to make changes to the team. I believe in all the players. Maybe in the next game, I will make changes again,” he explained.
With the first of the two international breaks fast approaching, the Islanders will now get some respite with a two-week window of rest until their next fixture against FC Pune City at home on October 19.
“I said I want to play as fast as possible. We need time to work. These 15 days will be okay for us to do better things,” Costa said about the period of rest.
Kerala’s passionate home support did not go unnoticed in the Mumbai coach’s eyes too.
“Amazing (support). It is much better to play in front of 35,000 people than to play in an empty stadium.”