Atletico de Kolkata managed to beat Kerala Blasters 4-3 on penalties to win the 2016 Indian Super League title.
Kerala’s Mohammad Rafi lit up the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium on Sunday by scoring the opener of the final in the 36th minute, which was cancelled out by Henrique Sereno just before half-time. The second half remained goalless, taking the game to 30 minutes of extra time, and eventually, a penalty shootout.
The men in Red and White emerged on top after the shootout, by winning it 4-3, and with it, their second ISL title since the tournament’s inception.
Jose Molina, ATK’s coach, spoke about his team’s triumph following the final, and heaped enormous praise on his squad.
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“We played as a team, attacking as a team and defending as a team,” he said. “Of course, you need good players to be a good team but I told the players from day one we need to play as a team not as individual players.
“Sometimes you have great players but not a great team. I don’t like that. I like eleven players on the pitch working together. All my players understand my philosophy and they played as a team and I am absolutely happy about that.
“I think we did great work from the first day. We lost only two matches. In some matches, we could have played better. Finally, we reached the final and played great. We were playing well. Final touches were not good. But finally, we won on penalties.”
On the other hand, Steve Coppell, the head coach of Kerala, used the post-match interview to express his frustration regarding the scheduling of the semi-finals.
“We didn’t lose, we drew the game,” Coppell stated. “We lost the league on penalties, it’s cool and I would like to congratulate Kolkata and the game was even and anybody could have won, and two very tired teams played.
“From our point of view we played three games in seven days and we had to travel to Delhi when we should not have had to travel to Delhi (for the second semifinal leg). I don’t want to sound like sour grapes because Kolkata have won it.”
He concluded the interview by stating: “I thought my players were fantastic and I can only compliment them on giving so much of themselves in the final match and throughout the league and the Kerala fans made the occasion and on behalf of the players and the support staff I would like to say thank you to the fans and sorry that we could not bring the trophy but it was a great experience.”