Coppell confident ATK’s ‘winning gene’ will persevere, Gombau looks ahead

ATK fought hard for a 2-1 win over Delhi Dynamos FC in their final league clash of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2018-19 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday. After a goalless first-half, Edu Garcia headed ATK into the lead on the 63rd minute only for Nandhakumar Sekar to pull Delhi level nine minutes later. A late winner from Ankit Mukherjee clinched all three points for the home side.

At the post-match press conference, a satisfied Steve Coppell turned up to give his insights on the match. On being asked whether match winner Ankit Mukherjee could be a real star for ATK next season, Coppell said, "I feel he could. But again, he’s on a very steep learning curve. The best way to learn is playing. So, I would hope he would get game time to really experience playing against top quality players because that’s going to be his education. So, I hope he gets game time next year."

The Englishman also went on to reveal that the youngster was one of the most popular players in the ATK squad. "I think he’s very popular. He’s always got a smile on his face. He’s one of the popular members of the squad. He’s not frightened of expressing himself. He’s a delight in training. He wants to learn. He’s a physical young man. He’s got real pace and he can cause lots of problems," the veteran coach said.

The ATK boss also had a message for the supporters. "This is a club who want to have more Hero ISLs. ATK already have two and there’s a real determination from the owner to make that three. I don’t doubt that it’s really a matter of time before it becomes three. There’s a success gene in a lot of clubs. That success gene is very much evident in ATK. I hope the construction of the squad continues. The acquisition of Edu Garcia proves that real quality does make a difference in this league," he stated.

From the Delhi camp, head coach Josep Gombau provided his verdict on the loss. Admitting his disappointment with the final result, he said, "I think we came here to try and win the game. We had this aim and we showed this from the first minute. I think we played quite disciplined, but in the end, we made silly mistakes. Now we need to keep working and start to prepare for the (Hero Super Cup) qualifiers."

The Spaniard refused to consider that Pune’s win on Saturday night meant his players weren’t that motivated for the match as the sixth place was out of reach. He said, "I don’t want to use it as an excuse. We are professionals. We needed to win the rest of the games. I can’t say anything about the effort. I think the decisions we made in some moments of the match, lost us the game."

Read the Match Report here.

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