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ISL 2018-19: ATK's Steve Coppell on playoff qualification - It's difficult but possible

15:54 GMT+4 21/02/2019
Steve Coppell Mumbai City ATK ISL 2018-19
ATK must win against Mumbai City and hope their opponents lose their last game...

ATK head coach Steve Coppell believes his team can qualify for the 2018-19 Indian Super League (ISL) playoffs.

The Kolkata-based club is sixth on the table with 21 points from 16 games. They must win their two remaining fixtures and hope Mumbai City lose both of theirs to stand a chance of making it into the playoffs. With a game against Mumbai coming up on Friday, Coppell feels playoffs is still a possibility. 

He said, “We were beaten by a better team (in the last game against Goa). But in the long-shot, we can still qualify. The only thing in our control is to win tomorrow.”

ATK continue to be troubled by injuries, with dates for the return of Manuel Lanzarote and Pronay Halder, two key players for the first team, still not set. In Lanzarote's absence, Coppell expects Edu Garcia to take up the mantle in the attacking third. 

"Manuel Lanzarote and Pronay Halder, still touch and go. Not sure if they’ll start next game or even be in the matchday squad

“When you look at it, Edu’s come in and he’s looked quality. I wished we had him from day one and that combination with Manu (Lanzarote). We only had our appetite wetted after his introduction. If Manu doesn’t make it tomorrow, we look to him to give us that spark in the final third. He certainly has the qualities to do so and I feel the responsibility is something he will embrace.”

With ATK still in a precarious position, Coppell was asked about what is to be expected from the game against Mumbai City. He explained, “It’s very difficult to qualify, but it is possible. We obviously cling onto that hope. Just like any other game, we’d like to win the game. If we were to win it, we would be within reach of Mumbai.

"We’d also have a better head-to-head against Mumbai if we win. You never know what would happen in football. We live in hope and more than anything we’d like to win tomorrow’s (Friday) game.”

ATK have only scored 15 goals from 16 games. When asked reasons for the lack of goals in the team, he said, “If you think from the start of the season, Mr Goenka compiled a squad very much with Kalu Uche in mind. He scored many goals last year. For injury reasons, he hasn’t played many games He’s a focal point for our attacking game.

"Without him, we tried to sign Alfaro who injured himself. The Australian player didn’t click and Everton has played roundabout there. The lack of a quality striker has made the difference. Also, we haven’t created as much as we wanted to. We’re lacking in that department. However, with two games to go, there’s all to play for.” he explained.

Finally, when asked about whether he will make changes for the upcoming Super Cup, he said, “I don’t think we’ll make any changes. However, it depends on how the next 10 days pan out. If we have a direct qualification or have to play the Super Cup qualifiers. If we qualify, we’ll stay and prepare and hopefully get to the main stage at the end of the month. 

"We want to win the competition. I know it isn’t looked upon, myself included, not as a prestigious competition but if you haven’t done well in ISL, we need to win the Super Cup. We will look to introduce some younger players from within our organization, as Indian Football needs the development of young players. It’s a sign of progress if the young player who’s signed by a team knows he’s good enough to play for the first team.” he explained.