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ISL- Indian Super League

Manuel Cascallana: I’m very happy for Balwant Singh

Published at :January 28, 2020 at 4:35 AM
Modified at :December 13, 2023 at 1:01 PM
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(Courtesy : ISL Media)

Uttiyo Sarkar

The ATK assistant coach also confirmed that Mandi Sosa and David Williams will be available for his side's next league game.

ATK snatched a stunning last-gasp 1-0 win over NorthEast United to leap back to the top of the Indian Super League on Monday. After both sides had cancelled each other out in an eventful encounter, a 94th-minute winner from substitute Balwant Singh handed the two-time ISL champions three vital points. Following the game, ATK assistant coach Manuel Cascallana interacted with the media in the post-match press conference.

Manuel Cascallana hailed his substitute striker for his impact from the bench, praising his devotion to the team despite not being handed many minutes. “First of all, I’d like to congratulate my team for fighting till the very end to get three important points. The reason for introducing Balwant so late is simple,” he started.

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“He’s a very good professional and he’s training very good. He isn’t finding many minutes because we have some very good strikers, midfielders keeping him out. In the last minutes we played completely direct, feeding the ball to Balwant and to Roy (Krishna). Balwant managed to score and I’m very happy for him,” the Spaniard added.

Manuel Cascallana acknowledged ATK’s struggles in gaining a hold of the game in the first half, but insisted that the Highlanders' strong defensive shape was the reason for their frustrations and how making changes after half-time helped. “The game was difficult. They played with a 5-4-1 and it’s difficult to find the breakthrough against a side defending in their own half. They had some very good centre-backs," he expressed.

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“It was a very difficult game attacking-wise and we didn’t play the best match. But, we made the necessary changes as the game progressed and gained more ball possession after the first half,” the ATK assistant coach further quipped.

ATK have some tough games ahead, so getting this win was even more important to keep their AFC Champions League dreams alive. Manuel Cascallana was blunt that ATK’s primary objective is to secure the playoffs place, but also insisted that his side are bent on gaining that illustrious ACL spot. “This win is important. But, it’s more important that with this win, we are closer to securing the playoffs stage. Our first target is to get to the playoffs. We have 27 points now and have a very good goal-difference,” he explained.

“There are still 12 points to play for. Of course, we took a very big step forward in terms of qualifying for the playoffs. But now, in the next four matches we’ll be fighting for the top spot. Of course, we want to play in the AFC Champions League and become the first Indian team to play the Champions League group stages,” Manuel Cascallana added.

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The ATK assistant coach also mentioned that Mandi Sosa and David Williams will be back for their trip to Jamshedpur FC on Sunday, which gives them more options to choose from in order to change up the system. He said, “It’s important now that we keep training hard. We’re thinking about the Jamshedpur game now. We’ll be recovering two very important players for us as Mandi and Williams will be available for that game, which is very good news. They (NorthEast) brought on (Federico) Gallego at half-time.”

“They had that luxury, but we didn’t because of the injuries. That’s why once again I want to congratulate my team. Because we really believed we could win it. In the last seven minutes we were attacking in corners, free-kicks, so in respect to that it was a very important three points for us," Manuel Cascallana concluded.