Both teams have endired disappointing campaigns in ISL 5.
ATK and Delhi Dynamos’ journey in the Indian Super League (ISL) season comes to an end in the final league stage game at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday. The Lions come into the match in hot form and with an outside chance of making the top six, which would guarantee them an automatic place in the Super Cup.
ATK, on the other hand, are winless in three and will want to display some free-flowing, attacking football in order to end their season on a high. Here is what the managers had to say before the game.
Steve Coppell (ATK)
Steve Coppell was asked about whether his inability to shape his own squad worked as a disadvantage. He explained, “To be fair, during Season 2, I was part of the draft with Jamshedpur and had a say in selecting the foreign players. This situation was obviously different as I only had a say in three foreign players, as the squad was already selected. I thought it was strong.
When you’re working with a squad someone else has selected, you’re working with someone else’s design. However, I feel the squad was enough to do well. We’ve had issues this season with centre-forwards and the balance in the squad. There was an iMbalance in certain areas,” he conceded.
The Englishman was asked about his strategy for tomorrow’s game and whether he’ll play on the counter-attack or take the game to Delhi. He said, “It’s somewhere in between that. We aren’t a team to sit back and hit on the counter. We are very respectful of what Delhi has to offer. (Lallianzuala) Chhangte and Romeo (Fernandes) are really good. The two midfielders and Daniel (lalhlimpuia) have done great.
They seem to have left their best form for the right games of the season. We know what they’re capable of and have to try and answer that in order to hurt them. There’s no way that we will get a draw or as such. We need to go with the mentality of winning the game,” he opined.
Finally, the tactician spoke on whether ATK lacked a quality domestic youngster like a Lallianzuala Chhangte or Daniel Lalhlimpuia in their team. He explained, “Chhangte is a very good player. I think it’s an indication of the progress Indian football has made with the ISL. It’s provided the stage for the young players to rub shoulders with the top foreign players. The rise of players like Chhangte is fantastic.
I think my team has developed this year. Jayesh (Rane) has done well. You look at progress in every team, like (Michael) Soosairaj from Jamshedpur. There are many players from each team and you can look at this season as the year of leaps and bounds. We need to continue to develop platforms for these players to get more quality Indian internationals in the future.”
Josep Gombau (Delhi Dynamos)
Josep Gombau was asked whether his side’s recent form is a source of redemption after having a disappointing first half of the season. He explained, “I think we started to play well very late into the competition. It was a long process to get all the players to start playing well. We played better football in a lot of games, but couldn’t get results. But, in the last three games, we are getting results, which is something new for us. Tomorrow, we’ll try to win and finish as high as we can.”
When quizzed on whether it’s his work which has gotten the young players blooming Gombau shrugged off the praise and said, “It’s not because of me that they are scoring. We are working tighter and have a good pool of young players. In every single game, we play 4-5 U-23 players and give them confidence. When they get confidence, they start playing to their best. I think everyone is doing really well and we are proud to be the team who are giving A platform to Indian players.”
Finally, he praised his opponents for tomorrow and spoke about the game at large. He said, “ATK is a very good team and has very good players – Indian and foreign – in the squad. It’ll be a tough game for us. But, the last games we are doing well and are confident of doing well tomorrow. I feel every ISL game is very equal and tomorrow’s game is as difficult as any other one.”
Everton Santos has gone back to Brazil after nursing a shoulder injury, while Manuel Lanzarote’s a doubt as well.
Martin Crespi is suspended for the game after picking up his 4th yellow card of the season against FC Pune City. Apart from that, The Lions have a fully fit squad.
Bhattacharya, Kotal, Johnson, Bikey, Ricky, Gerson, Halder, Rane, Garcia, Balwant, Uche.
Dorronsoro, Dhot, Zuiverloon, Gharami, Das, Rai, Davila, Carmona, Fernandes, Chhangte, Lalhlimpuia.
Did You Know?
- Delhi Dynamos’ domestic contingent have outperformed their foreigners, contributing towards 14 of their 22 goals so far this season.
- ATK have a pretty good record against Delhi Dynamos, having defeated them three times in their last five meetings.
- ATK have only scored 7 goals at home so far, which is the lowest among any side in the league.
The match will be played at the Salt Lake Stadium at 7 PM on Sunday. On television, it will be shown on the Star Sports Network. Meanwhile, it’ll also be available to stream on Hotstar and JioTV.