Coppell clutching onto hope as ATK prepare to face Mumbai City
ATK will once again seek to keep their bleak playoff hopes alive when fellow-hopefuls Mumbai City FC visit the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Friday. The former Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions sit sixth on the points table with 21 points - half a dozen less than the Islanders who currently occupy the final qualification berth.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, ATK boss Steve Coppell rallied his troops to stay motivated despite glaring at a losing battle for the playoffs. “It’s very difficult to qualify, but it’s possible to qualify. So, we cling onto that hope. Just as any ordinary game of football, we’d like to win the game. If we were to win the game, Mumbai will be in reach of us. If we win the game, we’d have a better head-to-head against Mumbai. So, you never know what can happen,” he said.
The Englishman also provided a brief account of what went wrong in their last match. “No strategy. It was just purely injuries. Manuel Lanzarote had a thigh strain and Pronay Halder after the Pune game had a hamstring issue. Both players are still touch and go for tomorrow. So, it will be a late call tomorrow as to whether they will be included in the playing XI or even the matchday squad. We have a few on-going issues. They are key players for us.”
“(Talking about the last game), to concede a goal within the first minute against a Goa side who are probably the most attractive team when in front… Our strategy before the game was very much to try and keep it quiet in the first 10-15 minutes, and then, inside one minute, we were 0-1 down. So, that makes it difficult. We were beaten by a better team. Goa on their day are the best team in the Hero ISL,” added Coppell.
Goal-scoring has been a problem for the two-time champions throughout the season. When asked to provide his views on it, Coppell said: “If you think from the start of the season, we complied the squad with Kalu Uche in mind, who scored a lot of goals last year. For injury reasons, he’s not really played a lot of games. And he’s a focal point for our attacking play. Without him there, we tried to sign (Emiliano) Alfaro who too didn’t play a game for us (because of injuries).
“Then we’ve had Everton (Santos) who’s played there. I think the lack of an out-and-out quality striker has made a difference. We haven’t created as much as I thought. We’ve been lacking in the department. And that puts strain on the defence to deliver every single game. But again, two games to go, all to play for.”
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