Erik Paartalu’s first-half goal made the difference in a game which ATK could have won by at least two goals. Balwant Singh alone missed three sitters from one-on-one situations.
Speaking about the match, ATK gaffer Steve Coppell said, “The goal was the only difference. I think we were the better team. We controlled possession and created chances, especially in the second half. We had three or four 1v1s in the second half. Hopefully, we will finish them next time. I can’t ask more from my players. We were up against the best team in the league.”
Coppell continued, “We need to score goals to get into the top four. I’m not using it as an excuse but losing (Emiliano) Alfaro and Kalu Uche has affected us. Over the past few games, we have had 0-0s and missed that individual brilliance that usually wins games. You can see how Bengaluru are benefited by Miku and Chhetri. We need to be more clinical in front of goal. We need something like that and hence score more goals to seal a top-four berth. Performance-wise, I am very happy and I think we can win 5-6 games on the bounce.”
ATK remained on the sixth position in the league table before going into the break but coach Coppell felt that they can still win the rest of the matches and make it to the playoffs.
“I always try and win games. In the last ten minutes, we went with just three at the back as we tried to push for the winner. Football is all about winning the games and we need to do that in the remaining games. I still think we are capable of getting into the top four,” said the former Jamshedpur FC coach.
The veteran British coach credited Bengaluru for their brilliant recruitments which have contributed majorly to their success.
He said, “I think 80 per cent of Bengaluru's success is due to the recruitment. They have the best Indian keeper and outfield player. And the foreigners are exceptional as well. It’s always difficult to play a team like that. It’s a great achievement that they are still unbeaten but all teams will be looking to break that streak now. Eventually, a team will manage to beat them and all other teams will learn from them and apply it against Bengaluru.”
Finally, on Komal Thatal’s performance, Coppell opined, “It is difficult to come on and make a difference. I think he (Komal Thatal) did well with his shots but could have placed it a bit lower. He has been terrific in the first few games although he has not enjoyed a lot of playing time. He has a bright future and I hope he does well. He was also called up in the probable list for the Asian Cup and that will be a huge opportunity for him to learn from some of the senior players.”