As Jewel Raja slotted the last of the penalties, coach Jose Molina said he first hugged the coaching staff and then looked up to the stands to try and locate his family. “They came here just for the final and will leave tomorrow,” he said. (HIGHLIGHTS)
Molina said it would have been normal had the score been 3-1 at half-time. “We were playing well but the final touch was not good. And then we showed more accuracy in the penalties that Kerala Blasters,” he said, before iterating the importance of team work in the pursuit of titles.
“Great players don’t always make a great team and I don’t like that. I like a team where players fight for each other. We kept some players who knew the league, knew ATK. That was why we retained seven of the 11 foreigners and we created a group that is generous for each other in the league. This is not an ordinary league because it lasts only three-four months so getting the group right was important,” said Molina.
He also said Raja had asked to take the fifth penalty. “Before the shootouts began, (Iain) Hume said he wanted to shoot the first and Raja said he would take the last. I said okay. After the final, I had to thank the players for what they did.”
Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell said this was a clash between two tired teams and it showed in how the final panned out. “We played three games in seven days. This is not an excuse because Kolkata won but we shouldn’t have to go to Delhi. Then, we had to leave in five groups and the last group reached the hotel at 8pm and the first group left Delhi at 5am. So we couldn’t recover properly,” he said.
Injury to marquee Aaron Hughes to didn’t help but Coppell said playing him was always a “calculated risk after he got hurt in Delhi.” He also said the team missed Josu Currias who was suspended. “The squad lacked balance from the first day and it wasn’t till the 10-11th game that we have proper full backs. I hope next time the squad would be more balanced…Atletico de Kolkata had the deepest squad.”
“When you are feeling this down, it is not the right time to ask about one’s future,” said Coppell. “I now want to go and meet my mum, who is of a certain age. We will decide about the future after New Year,” said Coppell, 61.