Steve Coppell’s tenure as ATK coach got off to a losing start after his men were handed a 0-2 defeat by the Kerala Blasters in the Indian Super League (ISL) tournament opener at the Salt Lake Stadium on Saturday.
Goals from Matej Poplatnik and Slavisa Stojanovic in the final 15 minutes ensured all three points for David James’ men who registered their maiden win in Kolkata.
Following the lacklustre display from his men, Coppell bemoaned their inability to hold possession.
“The main takeaway was that we gave away the ball cheaply. At half-time, I was quite happy. We had more possession. We then gave the ball away on so many occasions. You need to keep possession. Once they scored the goal I got the feeling we won't be able to come back. We took long shots but didn't impact the game,” the Englishman stated.
Praising Kerala’s performance on the night, Coppell said, “They were better on the day. Defensively we never got what we want. We wanted to start the season well. We need a lot to do to bring out the best.”
On his decision to start with Everton Santos as the lone striker instead of Kalu Uche, the veteran coach replied, "Everton is our only striker with pace. When you have Jhingan (Sandesh) in defence, we needed Everton up top.”
Star signing and skipper Manuel Lanzarote failed to have the desired impact in his first game in ATK colours and Coppell attributed his display to a lack of service.
“It is our job to feed Lanza (Lanzarote). He wasn't getting the ball so he went deeper. We got to get him higher up the pitch,” Coppell explained.
With ATK’s squad undergoing almost a complete makeover following their dismal showing in the previous season, Coppell believes his side has plenty of work to do in terms of creating an understanding between the group of players.
“We have got a lot of work to do. In terms of playing as a team, it was sporadic. This is a brand new collection of players. Within five to six weeks it is difficult to get rhythm. Our problem was keeping the ball,” he concluded.