The head coach was also very vocal about I-league players not being selected for the national team.

I-league champions stunned ATK Mohun Bagan at the Salt Lake stadium with an unexpected heroic performance. The Malabarians ran riot against the Mariners in their backyard and scored four past them in the AFC Cup opener.

Luka Majcen opened the scoring before Pritam Kotal restored parity in the second half. But after that, it was just a Gokulam Kerala show in the scorching heat of Kolkata. Majcen went on to score more with Rishad and Jithin getting their names on the scoresheet as well. Liston Colaco did pull one back for the Mariners, but couldn’t make up for the deficit.

After the game, head coach Vincenzo Alberto Annese addressed the media, and here’s what he had to say:

Thoughts on the game

The head coach shared his thoughts on the game. He was happy with his side’s performance. Vincenzo Alberto Annese further stressed the fact that there’s no difference between the I-league and the ISL in terms of quality. 

“We only had two days to prepare because we were busy with another competition. Tactically we were disciplined. There is no difference between the I-League and ISL. Coach (Igor) Stimac never gives chance to I-league players.

“I can make an analysis video and show that Real Kashmir, who were fighting for relegation in the I-League, gave us more problems than ATK Mohun Bagan. This is what I want to show to the AIFF. Everybody saw today that we performed so well. We need to recover well and think about the next game,” he said.

Turning Point in the match

Vincenzo Alberto Annese further explained the turning point of the match and also highlighted the injury concerns of his time.

“We had a lot of confidence within the team. Many players are not 100% fit. Luka came back after 24 days and played for 90 minutes for two games. Many of our players are coming back from injuries. He’s like a machine and players like him can make a difference.

“In the second half, we created more space. We found a lot of space on the left with Emil (Benny). We don’t need to dominate possession. Everything went according to plan and we created a lot of chances and that’s what matters,” said the head coach. 

Differences between the leagues

The Italian spoke a lot about the difference between the I-league and the ISL. He said that budget does play a role, but on the pitch, it’s 11v11.

“I think in football budget makes a big difference. But on the pitch, we have to adapt. Anything can happen on the pitch and a lot of times plans don’t go our way. It’s 11 vs 11 and we have to be strong tactically. We have a mix of Indian and foreign players. I don’t want to be arrogant at all and we start again in the next game,” Vincenzo Alberto Annese asserted.

Luka Majcen’s thoughts on the game

The man of the moment described his feelings post a well-deserved victory. He said, “Before the match, we knew that we had nothing to lose and all to win. So, it means a lot to the club and to all the people in Calicut.” 

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