Both the tacticians were impressed by the performance of the Indian starlet.
Bengaluru FC came from behind to down ATK 2-1 in their Indian Super League (ISL) match at the Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday. The hosts took the lead through a terrific goal by Komal Thatal, but Bengaluru showed persistence to score in quick succession before and after the half-time break through Miku and Erik Paartalu. ATK tried hard to get a point, but couldn’t break open Bengaluru’s solid defense after the Blues took the lead.
At the post-match press conference, Steve Coppell seemed disappointed at the result. When asked about whether ATK undid their own good work, he stated, “Yeah I’ll agree to that. They are very inventive on set-pieces and obviously, they have had a couple of quality players.”
“We were aware of that beforehand and didn’t want to give away silly fouls. We had a very specific game in mind. We went ahead through a terrific goal from Komal. Kalu’s substitution was a bad one for us. He’s a key player for us,” he added.
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“We gave away a silly free-kick before half-time. It looked like a terrific strike. The second goal just went through the players. I don’t know if the ball went out at first, but didn’t think that was the case,” the Englishman quipped.
“The players showed great effort and ability after going down. I felt we deserved something from the game. But footballs a cruel game sometimes. We feel very disappointed that the match went the way it did.” he opined.
ATK are yet to keep a clean sheet this season. Upon being asked on if its time to rethink their defense, Coppell explained, “I’m always thinking about my defense. I haven’t reflected on the game as yet. We need to get clean sheets.”
“The first goal was a quality strike. It wasn’t a defensive error. The second one was. When you look at your defense, you ask yourselves if there’s anybody to change and then ponder if we have to change anyone. We just need to get clean sheets,” the ATK tactician added.
The Englishman was asked on whether if he thoughts the officiating was harsh on ATK. He stated, “We’ve had a few matches this year where we’ve come out of a match with three or four booking and the oppositions haven’t got one. I don’t want to criticize the referees. We feel as if we’re being punished in some games and the opposition aren’t. I feel the referee were a bit harsh on us.”
When asked on whether Miku’s strike was the turning point of the game, he said, “Without a doubt. They’re a good side obviously, you look at the number of wins they had last year, the stars they have this season.”
“The unity of their team is fantastic. We respected what they’re capable of. I think if we went to HT 0-0, it would’ve been a different game. But when you give opportunities like that at the edge of the box to a goal-scorer like Miku, you’re asking for trouble really.”
Komal Thatal had a great game against Bengaluru. When asked about him, Coppell remarked, “Right from day one when we were in Spain, his level of commitment and skill has been very noticeable.”
“When I saw him, I just thought he’s a good player. He was 17 at that time and is 18 now obviously. If he continues to be humbled and continues to work as hard as he’s right now, then he’ll continue to improve.”
Coppell was asked to comment on Sunil Chettri’s performance. He said, “Sunil Chhetri has been a top-quality player in all the time I’ve been involved in India. He’s been a goal-scorer, a great contributor to whichever team he’s played for. That obviously includes the Indian national team. He leads by example.”
Finally, the Englishman was asked about Kalu Uche’s injury and said, “ I was really surprised when he stayed down. I thought he would get up when he was the first challenge, but he stayed down.”
“He’s such a genuine bloke that he stayed down. He’s damaged his quadriceps muscles. He’ll have an MRI scan tomorrow morning and then we’ll determine how extensive the problem is.”
“I think it might be an issue. But with our next two games being in 20 days, it could work to our advantage,” he concluded.
Carles Cuadret seemed pleased after getting the result. When asked on whether he thought Miku’s goal was the turning point, he answered, “I think it was better for us to score before half-time. Miku’s goal was very, very important. It was part of my half-time talk.”
“I think today was a very good occasion for us. We can learn a lot from that game. We had to fight a lot to get all three points,” he added.
“ATK demanded us to be very, very focused in defense. The precision we had in pre-season games allowed us to play tight today. I’m happy with the attitude and work of the guys,” Cuadrat said.
“I’m happy because we’ve shown more want to get the ball forward and create chances. The other team was putting three-four players in front, but we defended well. I’m happy they didn’t score because we were counter-attacking crazy and they had chances to make it 2-2. The result makes all of us strong as a team.” he added.
When asked on what he thought of Komal Thatal, he explained, “I feel he’s a very good talent. He has a nice future in front of him. He took advantage of that situation. We work a lot on our defensive line. I think he should be closer to the central defender.”
“I feel it was a very good pass and a very good goal. So I have nothing to say as it was a very good action from the other team,” he opined.
Finally, the Spaniard was asked whether this win could give them a boost of confidence heading into away matches against Kerala Blasters and FC Goa.
“We know that we have these are two stadiums were you have to go and you have to suffer. You are facing two very good teams in Kerala and Goa. Our players are working a lot to get all three points against them. Let’s see that whether we the momentum we got from here can improve us as a team then,” the Blues’ head coach concluded.