Molina credits team work after winning the trophy
Atlético de Kolkata head coach Jose Molina hailed team work after winning the 2016 Hero Indian Super League trophy at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Kochi on Sunday evening. Molina’s men beat Kerala Blasters FC 4-3 on penalties (1-1 after extra time) to lift their second trophy in three years. All through the season, ATK were impressive and suffered just two defeats, and speaking to the media after the game, Molina chalked their success up to team work.
“I think we are a team. That is most important. We attack as a team, defend as a team, fight together. I like the players. But what I love is the team. We have great players. But sometimes when you have great players, you don’t have a great team. I like eleven players on the pitch who play well, and there are other players who try to get in the team. And I am proud about that. They all play as a team,” Molina, who replaced Antonio Habas ahead of the season, said.
“I think we did great work from the first day. I think we played great tonight. We lost only two matches. In some matches, we could have played better. Finally, we reached the final and played great. We were playing well. Final touches were not good. But finally, we won on penalties.”
The winning penalty for ATK came from midfielder Jewel Raja after the seasoned Iain Hume botched up their first attempt in the shoot-out. Molina shed light on what transpired in the lead-up to the shoot-out. “Jewel Raja came to me before the penalty shootout and said I want to shoot Number Five. Hume came and told me I want to shoot Number One. So, I said ok, shoot. It is important for me to understand what the players feel in that situation, if they are under any pressure or not. If one player comes to you and says I want to shoot, I say ok. If ten players say I want to shoot, then you have to choose. All players who took penalties today wanted to shoot,” the Spaniard said.
“I was very happy after the last penalty. I started celebrating with the coaching staff and after that I turned to my family, who came from Spain to watch the final. They will go back tomorrow.”
The Spaniard also praised the Indian players in the ATK set-up for their commitment. “I think all Indian players are doing a great job from the beginning. I was absolutely impressed with them from the beginning. They want to work, they want to learn, want to improve from the beginning. That is what impressed me. The quality is there, you expect that from professional players,” he said.
Debjit Majumder had a great day in goal for ATK and it was his denying Cedric Hengbart at 3-3 that set the stage for the winning penalty from Raja. The goalkeeper drew praise from Molina. “He wanted to improve. He worked every day and improved. I put him in the line-up because he won his place in the team. He worked hard from the beginning,” he said.
Molina lastly said that a longer league will be better for Indian football.