The Bengal Tigers troubled season went from bad to worse after defeat at the hands of the Men of Steel at home.
ATK crashed to their third defeat in a row and sixth of the season as Jamshedpur FC registered a 1-0 victory over them in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday. Trindade Goncalves’ second-half penalty sealed the win for the visitors as the defending champions’ hopes of making the playoffs suffered a severe blow.
Speaking to the media during the post-match press conference was their interim head coach Ashley Westwood, who blamed the injuries for his team’s poor form. “Our team has to be kept fit,” he stated. “We have four injured foreigners and we have got Indian boys injured, too. We are playing a team that is very weak, because of the injuries. Simple as that.”
The Englishman further elaborated, “Obviously, Robbie Keane is injured. He is our main player. Ryan Taylor is suspended and injured. He is one of our goals’ players. Eugeneson Lyngdoh is injured, and he’s our best Indian player. It’s not an excuse, but those are the cards we got. I think we had like 10 injuries today. So, it was always going to be tough. We have to find a way. That’s why we have the squad. That’s why we try things a little bit different. And we’ll keep trying and be working till we find a solution.”
When asked about ATK’s chances of making the top four, the 41-year-old replied, “Well, it looks very, very tough at the moment. We are probably going to need five wins and maybe a draw, possibly maybe even six wins. We are running out of games. All our foreign attackers are injured.”
“So, it’s going to be tough, but I don’t think it’s dead. We will be stronger in the next game, that’s for sure; we’ll have some bodies fit. That should make a difference. So, hopefully, if we don’t get too down, if we look to get positive, I’m sure we can make an impact next weekend.”
Speaking to the media during the post-match press conference was their head coach Steve Coppell. The Englishman started off by acknowledging the fact that given the circumstances, things were a bit tough for the two-time champions. “First and foremost, it was a difficult situation for ATK, with the injuries they have with the international players,” he stated.
“The international players give the team solidity and to be one international player down, it does make a difference. They obviously played only three days ago. It’s my one complaint about the ISL. The scheduling of the games is a critical factor in the result because if you don’t have long to prepare, then it’s hard.”
Coppell, however, made it clear that he was looking to take advantage of this situation. “I must admit, we looked upon this game as an opportunity, and looking at our season, if we had not won today, then chances would have been difficult for us to be prominent towards the end of the season, in regards to getting in the playoffs,” he admitted. “This has just given us that little bit of flip because the top four teams seem to be winning games comfortably.”
The 62-year-old also mentioned that the run for the playoffs was getting tough. “You look at the table, and at the moment, the top teams look like they could get 28-30 points easily,” Coppell remarked. “So, that puts a lot of pressure on ourselves and you need to win games when you have the opportunity.”
The former Manchester United player was effusive when speaking about goalscorer Trindade Goncalves. “Trindade was a force going forward all night; running at defenders,” he inferred. “In the end, a very coolly taken penalty won the game for us.”
Jamshedpur travel next to Mumbai to play against Mumbai City FC, a team that is one position and two points below them, and Coppell highlighted the importance of the fixture before concluding. “That is another tough game,” he admitted. “Big prize for either team. Mumbai’s result against Goa was a terrific result; to go to Goa and win. A lot of respect to Mumbai for doing that.”
“It’ll be a good game next week I hope. Goa played two games less than us. So, they are in a good position and they are still very fluid going forward. But next week’s game against Mumbai is a very important one for both sides,” he finished.