Both managers admitted that the scoreline wasn’t a true reflection of the game.
ATK’s return to the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata started off on a disappointing note as they fell short in front of FC Pune City’s emphatic display. Even though ATK lacked some of their main players from action due to injury, the 4-1 loss would still be pretty hard to digest for head coach Teddy Sheringham and his men.
Speaking to the media in the post-match press conference, Sheringham reflected the same emotions. “Can’t analyse that (what went wrong in the game) straight away. They capitalized on our mistakes, but we didn’t capitalize on theirs. (That’s all I can think now) off the top of my head. Big margin at the end but it was a closely-fought game. We scored a fantastic free-kick but put ourselves under pressure again by conceding the second goal.”
He admitted that lack of concentration was one of the major reasons for ATK to lose the plot after they scored the equaliser through Bipin Singh in the 50th minute. “We were back in the game with a fantastic free-kick by Bipin. Then we switched off and they got the corner and we went to sleep. (There was) no marking (from the defenders). Not great from our point of view. It’s something we need to work on,” he explained.
Though ATK kept Pune’s custodian Kamaljit Singh on his toes for the majority of the match, the mistakes made by the host’s defence was laid bare. Even the dependable Debjit Majumder failed to make any crucial saves.
Speaking on this strain, Sheringham said, “You cannot put anything down to him (Majumder). The first one was a good shot, can’t really blame him for that. The second one was a good header, the third one was a massive deflection and so was the fourth one. I have to see that again. We didn’t really protect him. Sometimes that happens in football. You’re left open as a keeper. It’s not always the goalkeeper’s fault.
“We defend as a team and attack as a team. It’s not just the goalkeeper’s fault or the defence. We defend from the front. We need to do that all over the pitch. Switching off just after scoring a goal – that comes as a unit and not just the defence,” he added.
However, even after the disheartening loss, Sheringham had a few positives to take from the match. “As I said, I’m not really happy with stuff. But I thought we took the game to Pune. We played some fantastic football in the first half.”
“It was one clearance down the line which we should’ve cleared with ease. It was a mistake. It was deadly. One chance and they scored from it. It put us under pressure but you have look at how we started the game, how we took the game to Pune and how we dictated the play. Just one ball down the left-hand channel changes everything. That’s football, you have to deal with that,” he concluded.
“The atmosphere was like a World Cup match- Ranko Popovic
FC Pune City registered a thumping victory in their first away match of Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 against defending Champions ATK to win 4-1 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata. ISL 2016’s Golden Boot winner Marcelinho was at the top of his game as he finished the match with two goals and two assists. Rohit Kumar and Emiliano Alfaro were the other scorers for Pune.
Speaking to the media in the post-match press conference, Ranko Popovic was all praise for Pune’s captain. “Marcelinho played well and scored two goals only because of the team. He is, of course, one of the best players in the league. Last game his performance wasn’t up to the mark but today he was great,” he said.
He also seemed delighted at how his team left behind their loss to Delhi Dynamos FC in the previous match and rose to the occasion. “I told this yesterday, that we will try to play the same type of football. Last game we played well but didn’t win. Today it was different. More compact. I told the boys to play as a unit. The second goal changed the game. They had scored two minutes before that. I didn’t expect four goals but I am very happy. When you win it’s strategic when you lose, it’s not. The opportunity came and we got the three points. The key moment was Rohit’s (Kumar) goal,” explained the Serbian.
Even after Pune’s resounding victory, Popovic did not think ATK was a team to take lightly. “They (ATK) are a good side. They have won the title twice, we didn’t. On the basis of one game, you cannot criticise them. Every game is different. They have sixteen more games like us. There is a lot of scope,” he said.
Just before leaving, Popovic gushed about the atmosphere are the majestic stadium. “It is obviously nice winning 4-1. I was very excited about the ambience. I am jealous that I don’t have such an amazing ambience (at home in Pune). The atmosphere was amazing. It was like playing a World Cup or a Champions League game,” he concluded.