Mailson Alves brace was punishment for Bengaluru FC in ISL final: Albert Roca | football | Hindustan Times
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Mailson Alves brace was punishment for Bengaluru FC in ISL final: Albert Roca

Mailson Alves’s two goals from corner-kicks was a disaster, says Bengaluru FC coach Albert Roca after losing to Chennaiyin FC in Indian Super League (ISL) final

football Updated: Mar 18, 2018 10:28 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
Mailson Alves of Chennaiyin FC heads to score the equaliser against Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) final at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday
Mailson Alves of Chennaiyin FC heads to score the equaliser against Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (ISL) final at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday(ISL / SPORTZPICS)

With two goals here on Saturday, Mailson Alves headed the Indian Super League (ISL) trophy towards Chennai. Time will tell whether the Brazilian central defender also changed from being a journeyman to hero for a city where football is beginning to matter. Again. (ISL final highlights)

The ability to rise tallest and win headers is part of a central defender’s job. And yet Alves’s goals felt like sucker-punches for Bengaluru FC (BFC) because he hadn’t done it at all in 2015 and only twice this season before the final.

READ | ISL final: Chennaiyin FC stun Bengaluru FC, become two-time champions

“To concede two similar goals from corner-kicks is the first time it happened in the last 25 games maybe. You get punished for that,” said BFC coach Albert Roca still looking like he was having trouble digesting them.

That the second goal came on the back of Dimas Delgado being injured and at the stroke of half-time felt like a double whammy. “We were playing a good game till then and nobody was expecting a second. Dimas being injured at the same time made it a difficult half-time where I was trying to get my players to rise again. Those two goals were a disaster. Let’s just say it was not our day,” said Roca.

Alves’s second goal had the opposite effect on Chennaiyin FC. “The big man has had lots of opportunities but today he couldn’t have put them better. Going into half-time 2-1 up was a huge advantage. I have been on the other side and know how deflating it can be,” said Chennaiyin FC (CFC) coach John Gregory.

What makes defending set-pieces against CFC difficult is that four big units --- Alves, skipper Henrique Sereno, right-back Inigo Calderon and central midfielder Dhanpal Ganesh --- need to be marked. That is why 12 of CFC’s 31 goals this term have come from corner-kicks or free-kicks.

WATCH | Video highlights of Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 final between Bengaluru FC, Chennaiyin FC

Playing catch-up had Roca making a double substitution in the 60th minute, getting Daniel Segovia and Nishu Kumar in for central defender Erik Paartalu and wing back Boithang Haokip. “I was wondering whether I made those changes at the right moment. But in my head, after 15 minutes, I wanted to attack with five players… If it is wrong, I accept the responsibility,” said Roca.

Roca had to change his formation to three central defenders to accommodate for left-back Subhasish Bose’s suspension. “We knew we had players who could exploit the fact that they were playing three big central defenders. But what is important is that we let nothing bother us. Playing the final against the home team was a big obstacle but we have had them all season and we just rolled our sleeves and got to work. Basically, we showed a lot of baXXs,” said Gregory.

READ | Chennaiyin FC coach disappointed by Gurpreet Sandhu’s comment post ISL final

The win gives CFC the right to represent India in the AFC Cup in 2019 and Gregory said he would like to emulate what BFC have done so far. “I have seen Bengaluru flying the flag for the country. Albert’s managed to chop and change his combination and hopefully we can do the same,” he said.

But that’s for later. There is the more immediate business of firming up his contract, playing the Super Cup where Gregory hinted he could give the bench a run out and convincing Calderon that at 37 he still has a lot to offer for Chennaiyin FC.