The ISL outfit from the capital city will face the seventh-placed Kerala Blasters at Kochi on Saturday on the back of a 3-2 loss to Jamshedpur FC.
Speaking ahead of the clash, head coach Miguel Angel Portugal stated that the Kochi-based outfit’s mentality has been changed since the arrival of David James. Further, the Spaniard discussed Kerala’s newly recruited Icelandic striker Gudjon Baldvinsson’s likely impact.
‘’Kerala Blasters have a new head coach who has changed the mentality. I think their new signing could make an impact tomorrow because when a new player comes, everyone has expectations. But (the impact) would depend on how he plays,’’ he commented.
‘’It will be our responsibility to mark well because Kerala plays long-balls. Other teams know what our problem is- it is definitely with long-balls. I think that will be their philosophy against us,’’ explained Portugal while revealing his game plan for the face-off.
The 62-year-old coach believes that despite the results, his team has controlled the ball well but has struggled in one-on-one challenges. ‘’When we look at the statistical performance of the team, it can be seen that the team are good at ball possession but have lost in individual duels. That’s our problem,’’ he expressed.
The Lions have been massively hit with a blow as six of their players are on the injury list, claims Portugal. Vinit Rai, Jeroen Lumu, Rowilson Rodrigues, Edu Moya, Xabi Irureta and Nandha Nandhasekar are sidelined due to injuries.
On being asked if the side, amidst all the problems at hand, still has a chance to make it to the top four, Portugal denied. ‘’No, I don’t think there is a possibility. For us, the focus is about winning against Kerala. Our objective is to face each game as they come," he answered.
Lastly, the coach opined on the short-termism of managers in the tournament mentioning that the coaches deserve more time to prove themselves. ‘’I think coaches deserve more time. In six or seven matches, it is very difficult to have that philosophy,’’ he signed off.