Coppell pleased with progress, Gregory frustrated with result

ATK and Chennaiyin's coaches cut a contrasting figure after the Indian Super League match in Kolkata.

Steve Coppell speaking to the media after ATK's win over Chennaiyin FC.   -  ISL/SPORTZPICS

ATK rode on two first-half strikes by Kalu Uche and John Johnson to beat defending champion Chennaiyin FC 2-1 at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday. All three goals of the match came in the first 45 minutes, while the second 45 presented both teams with a host of chances, neither side could find the back of the net.

After the match, ATK coach Steve Coppell was pleased to register the first home win of the campaign in the third attempt of asking. “Well, I think, for every team to win at home just makes you feel good. Obviously, the first two games we lost and so it was a big win for us. The team is still evolving. You know, it’s still taking shape. The more we play, the more players are put under the microscope. The more you see who responds well and who doesn’t respond well, you can shape the team, even more, going forward. It’s happening to me,” he said.

The Englishman singled out the second goal as the real turning point of the match, as it allowed ATK a foothold in the match. “In a way, having gone 2-0 in front, it’s human nature to protect (the lead). I think, to a certain extent, it stopped us from playing as it made us think that we have to protect what we have. Certainly, when they got their goal, I think we just shrank a little bit. We were so intent on keeping the lead rather than being too concerned about trying to make it 3-1,” he stated.

Looking ahead to ATK’s next fixture against Bengaluru FC, Coppell acknowledged that it will be a tough test for his side, given the quality of the opposition. “The strategy is just to try and win every game. We know we’ve got a big game coming up. Bengaluru are a top side and they’ve proved it so far this season. They proved it last season. We look forward to it. We want to play the best teams and see how we cope. So, we are looking forward to that game now,” the veteran coach told the reporters.

Chennaiyin coach John Gregory cut a contrasting figure to his ATK counterpart during the presser and said, “It’s exceptionally frustrating. We have created our own downfall in many of our matches this season. Just genuine defensive mistakes which I expect not to happen. But, obviously, we’ve had to make one or two changes in defence this year. Football can be a very cruel game. Very, very, cruel. And it’s a fine line between success and failure.”

“We kept the ball for such long periods in the game and totally outpassed the opposition, totally outran the opposition, but it’s obviously not about that. It’s about scoring goals and they scored one more than us, which was enough to get three points,” he added.