Atletico de Kolkata kicked off their title defence in style with a 3-2 win over Chennaiyin FC in the inaugural match of ISL Season II. ATK coach Antonio Lopez Habas was rightly pleased with his team’s performance and said: “I am very happy with the win and the three points. The team showed good tactical discipline.”
The Spanish coach, however, was left unimpressed by the pitch condition at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here. “The conditions were humid and it was tough on the players. The grass and the pitch were horrible,” he said.
The injury to marquee signing Helder Postiga, who was stretchered off after scoring the team’s second goal, was a cause of concern for ATK and Habas said the player was taken to a hospital for further tests.
Refusing to be tagged as a defensive coach, the Spaniard added: “I have never been a defensive coach. One needs to find the right balance between attack and defence without going to either extreme.”
Chennaiyin FC were left undone by missed opportunities and sloppy defensive work. “We were just a bit unlucky and conceded soft goals. The goalkeeper’s fumble led to the first goal and it handed the early advantage to Kolkata,” assistant coach Vivek Nagul said.
Defending the team’s ploy to play long balls, especially in the first half, Nagul said: “Fikru was playing well and he was using his stature to control the (long) balls. Had we won some second balls it could have been very different.”
The home team’s Italian manager Marco Materazzi did not take his place in the dug out, serving a ban, which was handed to him during last year’s semi-final. “We could have used his experience on the field. His presence motivates the players,” Nagul said.
The assistant coach, however, said the team had a lot of positives to take from the game. “We had more shots on target and created good chances, which is a good sign. We know our mistakes and we will work on it,” he said.