Suman Chakravorty: Indian Super League season 5 is set to begin in less than a month’s time. Most of the teams are currently doing their pre-season camp in abroad. Two-time ISL champions ATK are currently in Spain for their pre-season. Last night they faced Premier League side Fulham in a friendly match where the Kolkata based outfit showed great character against a top side but they lost the game 1-0 as German star Andre Schurrle scored the winning goal for Fulham. After the game, ATK’s Technical Advisor Sanjoy Sen exclusively talked with www.xtratime.in about their ongoing preparations ahead of ISL season 5. Here goes the full excerpts:
XT: Is there any possibility of playing practice matches against the Kolkata giants?
Sanjoy: We will return to Kolkata on September 16. After that we have plans to play practice matches against any of the two Kolkata giants from East Bengal, Mohun Bagan and Mohammedan Sporting Club. The discussion is going on but nothing has been finalized yet.
XT: Komal Thatal has been regarded as the wonder kid of Indian football from the last U17 World Cup. Are you happy with his performances in the friendly games?
Sanjoy: Komal has proven me right. I was impressed with his skills after watching him in just 1 match during the FIFA U17 World Cup last year. Everyone here is very happy with his performances. He has played all the three matches here and he was just brilliant in all the matches. Though we brought Jayesh Rane in the second half in place of Komal against Fulham but we are very happy with him.
XT: Your analysis on ATK’s performance against a top Premier League side like Fulham?
Sanjoy: I won’t blame Arindam for the goal as it was a world class goal by Schurrle. He didn’t give Arindam any chance there. But I am pleased with my team’s overall performance. They had spent 100 million Euros to build their squad ahead of this season and performance against this kind of a team is just outstanding.
XT: ATK has roped in John Johnson from Bengaluru FC this season. Do you think this has given stability to your side after a poor season last year where your team conceded a lot of goals?1
Sanjoy: Yes of course. John is a big match player and we all know that. Here we have played against three top teams and we have conceded only one goal. I think this shows how good we are in defence. The whole team is in good shape and we will play two more practice matches here next week.
XT: How is Steve Coppell working?
Sanjoy: The team has adopted his system very well and we are playing solid football against all the teams.
XT: Kolkata giant East Bengal is thinking of doing a pre-season camp ahead of the I-League. Do you think it would enrich Kolkata football more?
Sanjoy: I have heard that East Bengal is also thinking for a preparation tour in Spain and it’s a great news. When I was with Mohun Bagan, I also used to say this kind of things. Today a team from Kolkata is thinking about it and I think it is a step towards right direction.
XT: There are a lot of criticism going on against East Bengal’s star World Cupper Johnny Acosta. Do you think his performances in last two games was not upto the mark?
Sanjoy: I don’t know why they are saying so many negative things only after a few games. On a poor ground like that any World class player would fail. We should concentrate on developing our infrastructures. Acosta has played for top teams in his career and a player of that level can’t be bad and he should get more time to adopt with everything.
XT: There was a tussle going on between you and Mohun Bagan regarding your payment. What’s the current status?
Sanjoy: They have already paid the due salary of two months. Beside that they have also assured me that they would clear the remaining amount as early as possible. So there is no problem anymore.