Frustrated de Deus rues near misses

NorthEast United coach João De Deus was left frustrated on Wednesday night after his side slumped to its fourth defeat in six games in this edition of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL).

Languishing in ninth place after a 0-2 loss to Mumbai City FC at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, NorthEast United have just one victory, one draw and a goal difference of (-)5 to show for their efforts. Their shambolic displays mean they have just four points, one more than bottom-placed Delhi Dynamos. For the record, they’ve scored two and conceded seven goals.

In the post-match press conference, the Portuguese coach rued his team’s wastefulness in front of goal. Concurring with the journalist who pointed out that NorthEast players were creating several chances but failing to convert those into goals, de Deus said, “I am frustrated and what you said is correct. We created so many chances. We should win games because we have more chances than the opponents. My boys came here to get a different result. So let’s work hard, let’s be patient and let’s try to let this moment pass. It is not fair but this is football.”

The 41-year-old former left-back, whose professional career spanned nearly two decades, however, defended his tactics. “We can change the strategy. The problem is (not just) the strategy and the players who are playing or the coach who is coaching. We must be better with the (finer) details (of execution) because that is what is making us lose the game. You don’t need to be an expert to understand that. You don’t have six or seven great opportunities to score (if the strategy happens to be incorrect). We are disappointed with the results but if you stay depressed with the situation, it is not going to solve anything.”

The coach has a point. His players have made a habit of making a mess of goal-scoring chances. “Sometimes, the ball hits the post. Sometimes, it hits the foot or head of an opposition player and we end up not scoring. Let’s try to solve the problem. That’s all I can say,” he said.

De Deus needs to address the team’s defensive frailties too. After all, both goals scored by Mumbai City FC were a result of scrappy, sloppy defending in both halves. First, Ravi Kumar ran out of his area to challenge Singh, and the 31-year-old forward clinically tapped the ball in between the goalkeeper’s legs to find the goal from nearly 20 yards away. Singh doubled Mumbai City’s advantage in the second half, with Cameroonian midfielder Achille Emana providing the assist yet again, this time rather selflessly in a two-on-one scenario with the goalkeeper.

NorthEast will now travel to Pune, where they face FC Pune City on December 30. Their next home game is some time away, on January 6. And de Deus will hope that his boys sort out their frailties, both in front of goal and at the back, when they turn up in front of their loyal fans next time around.

Also Read: Balwant scores braces as Mumbai City enter top four

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