A back-and-forth, hard-fought Maharashtra Derby between Puneri Paltan and U Mumba finished in a 33-33 tie at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday. At the post-match press conference, coach Anup Kumar and skipper Surjeet Singh took questions for Puneri Paltan, while U Mumba were represented by assistant coach Upendra Kumar, skipper Fazel Atrachali and raider Abhishek Singh.
Q. Coach, great comeback, but does it feel like three points gained or two lost?
Upendra Kumar: The way we started the game was incredible. But those three self-out points really turned the game. If you look at that incident in isolation, then it definitely feels like we gave up two points but the majority of the second half belonged to them and to comeback from that situation was extremely satisfying.
Q. Thoughts on Abhishek Singh's performance?
Upendra Kumar: Abhishek is up there among the best raiders in the league. Right now, he's performing at the same level that Pawan (Sehrawat) and Naveen (Kumar) are in. And he’s been playing according to the situation and those are good signs for us as a team.
Q. Fazel, thoughts on the defence's performance?
Fazel Atrachali: As a team, when you have a plan, you need to stick to that plan. In the second half, we couldn’t stick to it and the game drifted away from us quite a bit. And that probably was the difference between winning and tying.
Q. Coach, did the team play too safe at the end?
Anup Kumar: We did not have a raider on the mat towards the end. And that was a big problem. We had used up our substitutes and if we would have had a substitution in the bank, we would have tried to win the game.
Q. Where did it go wrong towards the end?
Anup Kumar: We gave away a couple of cheap raid points. Surjeet Singh's tackle where the raider leaped over was probably the turning point. We didn’t need to tackle him at that point.
Q. What was the strategy at the end?
Anup Kumar: We had planned to maintain a deep line defensively and in offence, our strategy was to play on the do-or-die raid. We could easily use up a minute and twenty seconds during our raids, but in defence, we made advanced tackles that weren’t necessary.