ATK picked up a win against NorthEast United and reclaimed their position at the summit of Indian Super League (ISL) table thanks to a last-minute goal from Balwant Singh.
In the absence of Antonio Lopez Habas, who is suspended for two matches, his assistant Manuel Cascallana was in charge of the team against the Highlanders.
When asked about Balwant Singh's absence from the lineup, Cascallana said, “It was three important points. He (Balwant) is a very good professional. We have very good players and that's why he is not playing regularly. But he has been training really well. Edu (Garcia) played, therefore, Balwant had to sit out. Last five minutes, we were playing direct football. That’s why Balwant came in to add more thrust in the attack.”
The Spaniard explained the tactical changes he had to make during the course of the game. “It was difficult in the first half. They played 5-4-1. They were defending in their own half. They had two good centre-backs in (Mislav) Komorski and (Kai) Heerings and then (Jose) Leudo. Therefore we changed to two strikers with Jobby (Justin) joining Roy. I think this alteration helped us in going forward.”
Cascallana suggested that the team is now even more confident and suggested that they want to become the first-ever Indian club to play in the group stages of the AFC Champions League (ACL) by topping the ISL standings.
“It is a big step. We want to finish at the top. We want to be the first Indian team to play AFC Champions League. We will be going with more confidence to Jamshedpur as Mandi (Sosa) and (David) Williams will be available. It was an important three points for us tonight.”