Rafa Jorda scored the winner for the visitors to keep them alive in the race for the playoffs.
Defending champions ATK fell to their fifth defeat in six matches when Mumbai City FC edged them 2 – 1 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18. After Marcio Rozario had given the Islanders the lead, Bipin Singh had briefly brought back parity before Rafa Jorda struck the winner. ATK, who are already out of contention for a playoff spot, are now rooted at eighth with three games to go.
Speaking to the media during the post-match press conference was their interim head coach Ashley Westwood, who underlined that his strategy for the game did worry Mumbai initially. “I think tactically, we were well prepared for Mumbai,” he said. “We started really well. Then their coach, credit to him, spotted what we were doing and swapped their system after nine minutes. It showed that we were doing our homework correctly. But for the first 30 minutes, I don’t think they were out of their halves.”
The Englishman then explained what went wrong for his team. “For me, there was only going to be one winner and then we gave a silly foul away on the edge of the box,” Westwood stated. “We give them an opportunity from the free-kick and it obviously ended up in the back of the net, completely against the run of play.”
The 41-year-old, however, maintained that his team deserved better from this fixture. “We did really well to get back in the game,” he inferred. “We scored a goal, just after half-time. I thought we threatened although we did not have any clear-cut chances. I thought we thoroughly dominated the game. They defended well and you have to give them credit. They have some big central defenders. On another occasion, we’d win the game.”
Regarding what his team need to improve on, Westwood said, “For us, we need to stop conceding. We are good attacking-wise. We have nothing to lose and we try and win games. So, we open ourselves a little bit but attack in a quick aggressive way.”
Before wrapping up, he also explained why Soram Poirei was preferred ahead of Debjit Majumder. “Debjit has felt a little soreness in his knee,” Westwood revealed. “So, we’d thought we’d look after him now before it becomes a problem. He’ll be available for the next game. But, I think Poirei has done well. He’s quite confident. He’s done well with his handling and he’s done well with his keeping. So, Debjit has got a task getting back in the side.”
Mumbai City FC piped defending champions ATK by a 2 – 1 scoreline at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Sunday in the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18. Marcio Rozario and Rafa Jorda scored on either side of a Bipin Singh equaliser, as the Islanders kept alive their hopes of making it to their second consecutive playoff.
Addressing the media during the post-match press conference was Mumbai’s head coach Alexandre Guimaraes, who underlined the importance of the win. “It was a very important win,” he remarked. “It was important, firstly, for the players who have been trying to get a result like that in our previous games and did not get the rewards. This is good for their self-confidence, so that they know that they are doing things well. The reaction the players had after ATK had equalised were fantastic because they showed the will to win.”
He further added, “And of course, it keeps us alive before these last three games that we have to play. It’s not easy always to come here (in Kolkata) and win.”
The 58-year-old also explained why he had benched Balwant Singh for this crucial encounter. “For our last two games at home, we prepared a Plan B in case we needed it,” explained Guimaraes. “So, I analysed that and kept Balwant Singh on the bench. And even if Thiago Santos would not have been injured during our last training session on Friday, I would have started him on the bench with Balwant. I know they can go in and with their quality and experience, the other team would draw back.”
The Costa Rican also highlighted midfielder Sehnaj Singh’s contribution to the game and lauded him for his performance. “I am very happy at how Sehnaj Singh has played,” Guimaraes stated. “He did fantastically. He is a warrior. He plays in a position where there is a lot of contact. He played first in midfield and then as a right back and then again in midfield. He has this versatility that I like very much. So, this is important for my conception of the game.”