Des Buckingham – It’s not about where we are right now, it’s about where we finish

Des Buckingham

Mumbai City FC head coach Des Buckingham and striker Igor Angulo adressed the media ahead of their game against Kerala Blasters on Sunday at the Tilak Maidan Stadium from 7:30 PM.

How do you prepare the team for the match against Kerala Blasters FC on Sunday?

“I am looking at where we are right now, we sit third on the table and we sit three points behind Kerala, so nine games to go. It’s not about where you are right now, it’s where you finish and we’re in a strong position to make sure that we put ourselves in a position now to go on and finish strong and it’s important that we go on to do that. So, that’s the way we look at things here.”

The team has been conceding a bit more goals. What do you need to work more on in order to improve your defense?

“Yes, it’s an area where we certainly want to improve. We can’t go through the next nine games conceding the goals that we have, we know that. But it’s also the same starting eleven that we’re keeping clean sheets at the start of the season. You know, we’ve kept three clean sheets in 11 games and didn’t concede those (many) goals in the first six or seven rounds. I’m convinced there’s only a brief time away from turning around.”

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Des spoke on the five games winless run the club is going through and he suggested how they can change it and turn around their fortunes in the upcoming matches.

“We did get off to a very strong start, and I think then we carried on the expectation. We are trying to do that, and sometimes it’s difficult to do in a league where everybody’s beating everybody.

It’s important when you go through these tougher moments where maybe you don’t get the results that you either feel you deserve or that you maybe want is that you look back that this had happened last year where the club went through three or four games where the results weren’t won, but it’s the reaction that you want.

“It’s important that the way the club reacted last year where they kicked on after that and it’s important now that we react in the same way in the next nine games. It is a positive one, and we’re looking forward to it.”

Many clubs are having players and staff getting infected with Covid and Buckingham shared his verdict on it and also reflected on the present scenario in the Mumbai City bio bubble.

“Obviously, I see it and it is concerning because you don’t want anybody to get Covid either in the bubble or outside. I can only speak for us and we have no cases at all here amongst our players, staff, or hotel staff.

“So that’s all we can control, so it’s important that the measures that are put in place here that we follow to make sure that stays the case, and then we trust the league to manage as they have put out and that’s what we can do so we can only control what we have and that’s making sure our players, staff and our hotel staff stay Covid-free for as long as possible.

“Yeah, we’re ready like I said we have no cases here and our preparation. fortunately hasn’t been affected because of that, but I’m also aware that other clubs. Obviously, it has so again I can speak on behalf of us we’re as prepared and ready as we can be, and then it’s up to other teams to prepare themselves and then up for the league to make decisions on whether games can go ahead or they can’t and that’s as much as I can say on that.”

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Kerala Blasters FC are coming into the game with a 10-match unbeaten run. What are your thoughts on the opponents?

“I really enjoyed watching Kerala Blasters. I think they’re fantastically coached by Ivan [Vukomanovic] and they’ve got some exciting players. I mentioned Adrian Luna in my last press conference leading into them, I’ve been really impressed watching them.

“You know, we played Chennaiyin who hadn’t been beaten, we played Jamshedpur who hadn’t been beaten when we played them, so it’s an exciting opportunity to take these unbeaten teams on and to go on and win the game. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to get back on track as well.”

What do you think has gone wrong in the last few games and how will you look to rectify that against Kerala Blasters FC who are right at the top of their game?

“I think it’s an exciting challenge, you know, which is about not getting carried away with the results. I know the comments made about how well we play when we win games, and I’ve seen quick reactions when we don’t win games. So, it’s important, as I go back to what I said at the start, we don’t get carried away whether we win or lose.

We’ve played some good football in the eleven games and have put ourselves in a strong position leading into the second half of the season. We sit three points behind Kerala, and we play Kerala, so it’s an exciting opportunity to draw level with them and kick on.

But it’s very much about making sure over the next nine games that we’re consistent in both performances and picking up results, to make sure that come to the end of the season, we put ourselves in the position that we all want.”

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Do you think there is a lack of enough bench strength as you made five changes to the side to keep some players fresh?

“Yes, the last game we made changes because of the short turnaround between games. You know, I think in this league we’ve just had some six or seven-day breaks, whereas in the last game we only had two days in between games. So, I think it’s important that you try and put the freshest team on the field that is still going to be able to perform the way that we all want to and that’s what we tried to do.

“But that didn’t quite happen for us. So, we made those changes at halftime, and I thought we were a little bit more balanced in the second half. And we started to go back to showing the energy and quality of football that we wanted to show from the start of the season and that’s something we’ve reflected upon this week.”

On injury concerns in the team and update on Vikram Pratap Singh’s recovery

“No injury concerns as of now. Vikram is back in contention for the squad, so he’s trained with us for the last two days, and we’ll train fully today again.”

Do you think it will be the perfect opportunity for redemption against Kerala Blasters for the winless run you have had since losing to them in the earlier match?

“Yeah, like I said I had a really good chat with Ivan [Vukomanovic] before the last game, and that was a time where like you said results turned, and this would be a very nice time for them to turn back for us, but it won’t be about revenge for us. It’s about making sure that we approach the game and play the way that we want, and it’s important that we get a real positive reaction to set our season up for the next eight games after this match.”

Below are some of the excerpts of Igor Angulo’s press conference

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You have played in ISL last season and you are also playing this season as well. So how do you rate your performance of the team from the last season to this season and what is your experience under coach Des Buckingham?

“This season is much different than last season. Now, I’m even in an indifferent club so it is difficult to compare last season with this season. I’m a striker and my job is to help my team score goals. I’m doing it so far and I hope to keep helping the team in this way.”

You know you have been playing with Ygor Catatau who is comparatively young with respect to you. So what is the advice you give to young strikers who are part of your team to improve on finishing and developing their game?

“Also now that I am older than before, I have also this responsibility of not just teaching the youngsters but also helping them and being a reference for some of them.  I can help them to improve their quality and skills, also I am here for that. I think Ygor is a fantastic striker and he is improving a lot, he has a good future ahead of him.

So there are some good strikers in the team but obviously, the coach has to decide who will start. Also, we only can play with four foreigners at a time, so it’s big trouble also good in a way for the coach to have the possibility to choose between the very good players. So at the end I think Ygor and me but we want this to win collectively, and we’re are doing in our best possible way and we hope to keep helping the team in this way.”

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As a senior and an experienced player, how has been your role in sort of developing and helping the young players in the team this season?  

“Given my age, I don’t just have the responsibility to perform on the pitch but also in the dressing room. This year, in the bubble, I try to help the youngsters of the team to improve their quality, and I’m very close to the attackers of the team too, they have a good relationship with me, and we get along really well. Anything they need, they know I’m here [for them].”

As a senior player in the team, how important has been your role in addressing what has happened in the last five games?

“Important. We have to be there for the team and try to help in every way possible. This is a very young squad, only 3-4 players are over 30 years old. So, all of us have to pull in the same direction. All of us are important but obviously, the responsibility falls more on the senior players than others, but we have a good team. Yes, we had a bad run in the last five games, but we’re the ones who will have to change it. And I hope on Sunday we can change this dynamic.”

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