Coppell hopes to cut off Goa’s ‘supply’ to Corominas

Two-time Hero Indian Super League (ISL) winners ATK have slowly but surely brought themselves back into the mix towards the top of the table. Back-to-back clean sheets have been one of the many recent positives for Steve Coppell’s men, who’ll be looking to get past a free-scoring FC Goa outfit at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Wednesday.

Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Coppell began by looking back at their stalemate against Mumbai City FC just three days back. “I felt we had the better of the game and looking back, overall the performance was strong on the road against a Mumbai side who previously had kept three clean sheets themselves. So, they’re difficult to break down. So, looking back I’m disappointed we didn’t get the three points. But the performance was solid,” he said.

The ATK defence, despite their recent showings, will face their toughest test yet as they prepare for the visit of the majestic Ferran Corominas. Coppell gave an interesting insight into his plan of stopping the Spaniard but agreed that it’s easier said than done against a class opposition like Goa. “Good player! He doesn’t play by himself. He needs somebody to load the bullets for him. So, the best way of stopping him, is stopping the source of his supply, if we can. And that’s the challenge when anyone plays Goa because they commit so much going forward that if you can disturb the rhythm and cut off the supply, then you got a good chance of getting the result. They’ve lost a couple of times this year. So, we have an idea of what the successful teams against Goa have done. So, we need to try and duplicate that and really disturb their flow,” the 63-year-old opined.

The former champions’ recent defensive verve coupled with the return of Andre Bikey to the starting line-up has quite clearly made a difference. The Englishman spoke of his admiration for the towering defender and shed light on his influence in the dressing room. “Even when he wasn’t playing, he’s an influence. On a daily basis, he’s so friendly and encouraging for everybody. He speaks two, three languages. He communicates with everybody. Andre is one of those players who brings out the personality in everybody. So, he is important even when he’s not playing. He played in the Premier League for many years. He’s obviously brought that to play, he’s calmed us down defensively over the last couple of games. Long may it continue,” Coppell said.

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