Both coaches were in awe of the Bollywood-style opening ceremony in Kochi.
ATK coach Teddy Sheringham got his wish as his boys managed to keep the Yellow Brigade quiet for most of the match. The Englishman said his team was unlucky not to bag three points in the ISL-4 opener against Kerala Blasters on Friday.
“We kept the ball slightly the better than Kerala Blasters. The way we performed and took the game to them I felt we were the better team.”
Sheringham was full of praise for Hitesh Sharma and reckons the 20-year-old has a great career ahead of him.
“The star of the show for me is Hitesh. I thought he was outstanding, not only attacking-wise but defensively. His positional awareness is fantastic and if he keeps up that he’s going to be some player by the time he reaches 25.”
Sheringham was also happy with his backline for keeping Dimitar Berbatov at bay and hopes to have the services of right-back Ashutosh Mehta, who’s nursing a hamstring injury, by next week.
A game of good quality, says Rene Muelensteen
The attacking trio of Dimitar Berbatov, Iain Hume and CK Vineeth failed to spark against arch-rivals ATK, but Rene Muelensteen was a happy man. Though he was a little critical of his team’s lack of quality in the final third.
“I think we should have done a little better at times on the ball – bit more composure and quality. We missed a little bit of quality in the final third to really put that final ball and the final cross to make things happen in front of the box,” said Muelensteen.
The former Manchester United first team coach admitted tweaking the formation to bring Berbatov more into play and added that players need time to get used to each other.
On his decision to deploy Izumi Arata as a defensive midfielder Muelensteen said, “He’s got a good understanding of the game and is comfortable on the ball. That’s why I think it’s a good position for him.”
The Kerala Blasters boss also lavished praised on the ISL for organising a “fantastic” opening ceremony.