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Super Cup 2019: Steve Coppell - Finishing third in I-League is a great achievement

13:20 GMT+3 31/03/2019
Steve Coppell ATK
The British tactician is not making the mistake of taking Real Kashmir lightly...

Steve Coppell, head coach of ATK, heaped praise on Real Kashmir and David Robertson on the eve of their Round of 16 match in the Super Cup. The coach believes that Robertson has done a wonderful job and it is no mean feat to finish third in I-League

"I have seen some of their games on TV and they are a team which demand and deserve respect. They play in a particular style which is very high in tempo. They also score a lot of goals and hopefully it will be a very good match. You judge people on what they do and not on what they have done. Finishing third in I-League is a great achievement.  They play attractive and attacking football and we know that he (Robertson) has done a very good job," stated the former Jamshedpur FC coach.

Coppell thinks that the match against Mumbai City was the turning point in their Indian Super League (ISL) season and if they had won that game, things could have panned out differently for ATK.

"Realistically if you look at the season if we had beaten Mumbai we would have been in the playoffs. But in that particular game we had injuries and suspensions and we were not able to put our best team out. I would like to have this scenario once again and if we had qualified for the playoffs then whatever we have done in the season would have been looked upon in a bit different way.

"Uche (Kalu Uche) was injured and we brought in Alfaro (Emiliano Alfaro) but unfortunately he also got injured. We lacked a bit of firepower. Defensively we were decent and the creative players also did their job. Edu (Garcia) coming on board is a huge addition and wish we had him since the start of the season," reasoned the British coach.

Arindam Bhattacharyya, who will be under the sticks against Real Kashmir, stated that although both Prabhsukhan Gill and Dheeraj Singh are good goalkeepers, he prefers Gill to Singh. 

"Gill has done a wonderful job. I have seen some of his games and I personally like him very much. Dheeraj is also equally good but I will keep Gill ahead," opined the keeper.

Meanwhile, David Robertson is expecting a tough game against a quality side like ATK.

"There is a big difference in level between the I-League and ISL. This is a step up. ISL clubs have a lot more budget. We know that this is going to be a tough game. Like every game this season we will be the underdogs but we will go out and enjoy the match," stated the Scottish coach.

"Knockout matches are very different and they are very difficult as well. ATK have highly experienced players but we will go into the match just the way that we have done throughout the season. We have beaten Chennai City FC twice and also Churchill brothers twice. So on our day we can beat anyone. It will be a great test for our players to see how far we have come since the start of the season.  The only concern is that we haven't played for three to four weeks."

Robertson is confident that his players will give their all as they know that some of the bigger clubs will have their eyes on the match. They have an enviable record away from home and the coach wants to maintain it.

"Our team knows how to adapt. We have played in cold conditions and in boiling conditions as well. We have come across various hurdles in this season we had to play a home game away from home. But these guys have come up and overcome all of the obstacles.

The next game is always the most important game. We are playing against ATK and we are the first team from Kashmir to play in the Super Cup.  We have been playing since two years and since the Inception of the club we haven't lost a game away from home and we want to keep this record intact."

The 50-year old coach insisted that Kashmiris are an integral part of the team and the team spirit within the squad is the secret to their success.

"The Kashmiris have been an integral part of the squad. There were six Kashmiris in the starting line up in the previous season and now we know that a couple of them are attracting the attention of bigger clubs. I think our success has put Kashmir strongly in the Indian football map. We played six games at a stretch away from home and we didn't lose any of them. We beat Chennai and Mohun Bagan and I think that period was the highlight of our season," concluded Robertson.