Manuel Perez: It was an important win against our rivals

ATK FC beat FC Goa by a 2-0 scoreline at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Saturday. Pritam Kotal and Jayesh Rane scored the two goals of the match, while the ATK defence held strong to keep a relentless Goa forward line at bay. The result also sees ATK rise to the top of the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) 2019-20 points table at the expense of the Gaurs.

At the post-match press conference, ATK assistant coach Manuel Perez emphasized the significance of the result and opined, “It’s a very good result for us. We are back on top of the table now. FC Goa are our rivals and we have fighting them the whole season for the top spot. The score was important too. We lost 2-1 in Goa but won 2-0 here, so that means even if we are level on points at the end of the season, we will be at an advantage.”

ATK head coach Antonio Lopez Habas had to watch the match from the stands due to a suspension. Asked if his absence in the dugout impacted the team at any level, Perez stated, “Habas is our leader, our head coach. But we are a collective and the coach is no different from the technical staff. Today was my turn to lead the team because of the circumstances. The next match against NorthEast United FC, we have to continue performing like we did today. We plan every match in advance, so it’s not an issue.”

Jobby Justin was handed a start against Goa and the forward put in a good shift. Giving his opinion on Jobby’s performance on the night, Perez said, “Jobby is a really good player and is growing each day. We had a plan surrounding him today and it worked out. He played well.”

ATK started the second half with a high tempo after a goalless first half and took the lead as a result in the 47th minute. Asked what he changed at half time, Perez revealed, “We were not pressing high enough (in the first half). In the reverse fixture against Goa, we were defending in our own half and it was a horrible match for us. We didn’t want to repeat that, so we made a few changes, tactically. So, in the second half, the plan was to attack, attack, attack and the ploy worked.”

One worrying sign for ATK on the night was key player Roy Krishna being substituted late in the game with what seemed like an injury. Enquired about his status and that of David Williams’, who had to sit the match out with an injury, Perez revealed, “It’s too soon to know that. Krishna was tired and we wanted to press high, so we took him off. As for Williams, we have 10 days till the next match. We will work on him and try to get him fit for the next match.”

Read the Match Report here.

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