Bengaluru FC managed a crucial 1-0 win over Mumbai FC that sees them go joint top in the I-League table with a game in hand. Outside of the Boot’s Sami Faizullah was on hand to get the best of Ashley Westwood’s post match comments.
On Indian football development, and Mumbai FC’s abuse of the U-22 rule:
(For context, I-League rules specify that each side’s starting XI should have atleast one U-22 player. In the past sides like Mohun Bagan and now Mumbai FC have abused the rule, substituting their U-22 starter for a non-U22 player in the opening minutes of the game)
“We put four U-22 players on the pitch today. Even when we needed to win, last 23 minutes or so, we brought U-22 players on. I don’t know exactly but Zuala is 18, Daniel is 18-19, Udanat 19 as well, we’ve got confidence in our young lads and its a shame the rest of the league don’t.
We keep talking about developing Indian football, but we just don’t see it happening. I think i’m the only foreign coach in the league, who respects the rule and has confidence in young lads. Maybe we need to look at ourselves. I’m not even Indian so why do I care about developing Indian football.
When it’s all finished, and i’m old, I probably wont be here. At the end of the day these people [Indian coaches] have a duty to their country to develop young players, and if they don’t do it and just want to concentrate on winning, then that’s up to them.”
On this fixture potentially being labelled a derby, and the atmosphere:
“It’s good. You look all across the world there are always derbies like Man United & City if you will, but there’s others like when Man United play Liverpool which is fierce. So it doesn’t always have to be the name that makes a derby, there’s also a bit of history and we have a history with Mumbai; before the games and the shenanigans if you like in and around the touchline in previous games, we’ve never beaten them before which ads extra spice to it as well.
— Outside of the Boot (@OOTB_football) April 3, 2016
The fans were fantastic and in full voice. They were loud, they made a good atmosphere but they never overstepped the line. If i was an away coach and had that behind me, that would actually spur me on. Everyone likes to be involved in games, nobody likes a quiet ground or quiet fans. Hopefully we can continue, build more rivals and more competitiveness in the seasons to come.”
On the title race:
“Obviously Mohun Bagan have dropped points, which means East Bengal have gained three. It’s tight at the top between the three of us, but we need to concentrate. If we win four, we’ll win the league; it’s in our own hands now and its been a while since it’s been like that so we only look at ourselves, we aren’t too concerned with others.”
On the game itself:
“Physically it was okay. The lads gave everything they got, which they always do; no question marks on that. We had a decent game plan to play them down the wings, and it was working. We were a little bit wasteful in front of goal and in the final third, but we kept huffing and puffing; Daniel came on and scored, and we were relieved.
When we look back on the game it was one we definitely should have won, and had we not, we surely would have been in the dressing room kicking ourselves.”
On the post-match scenes:
“I went to shake hands, like I always do. I put my hand out but it wasn’t taken. So you have to ask the opposition coach why he isn’t sporting.”
On the substitutions:
“To be honest I didn’t actually want to make a sub, Len was doing well, Vineeth and Kim were making chances, and even just before the sub we had a chance which Vineeth should have scored from. Len himself had a few ricochets and it looked like we were going to score.
Udanta came on around 60 minutes, and I didn’t want to put him on initially which sounds a bit daft because he came on, made an impact. But we knew he has that in him.”
On Eugeneson and Chhetri’s injuries:
“Eugeneson was good. I was a little fearful, taking players off, because I thought he [Eugeneson] would have to come of after 65 minutes; we didn’t want him to play the entire 90, but he only got stronger.
Sunil’s injury is not serious, i’d be surprised if he’s not fit for Wednesday’s game. He’s done good work in training over the last 3-4 days. Ofcourse he didn’t play for India, but we decided not to risk him so soon.”
On Udanta Singh and in his India debut:
“He’s a good player. Ofcourse enjoyed his time with India, big lift for him making two appearances for the national team. He’s full of confidence, though he is a little tired. He’s trained hard with the national team, probably harder there than here and he’s a young boy travelling to Iran, and then back home to face Turkmenistan. He’s played some three games in ten days, and he needed a rest.
But we know he’s a good player, one that’s always going to make an impact. With the front four that we have, five with Daniel actually, we have players who can make an impact and we are confident in whoever plays there.”
On lack of goals in the match:
“To be honest it’s so late in the season, all we are really concerned about is three points. We have a young squad, and young forwards actually. Apart from Kim, Vineeth has never really played as an out-an-out center-forward, Udanta & Daniel are young boys, and even Len is our U-22 player in the starting eleven. They’re young, they’ll make mistakes but they’re learning and that’s okay. You get that with young boys, once they lean they get composed and find it better to find the back of the net.
Fortunately we are a team that always make chances; it would be a worry when we stop making them. There aren’t too many games where we failed to score. So yeah, in hindsight we would like to score more but mainly we need to give young boys confidence, they’ll take strides and score lots more.”