Fatorda (Goa), March 15 (IANS) ATK and India full-back Pritam Kotal said he is relieved to help the side win their record third Indian Super League (ISL) title, saying as a senior player in the team it was his responsibility to motivate the players in front of empty stands at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
ATK rode Spanish midfielder Javi Hernandez’s brace and a goal from Edu Garcia to defeat Chennaiyin FC 3-1 and grab their third title in a riveting final which had to be held behind closed-doors due to the coronavirus outbreak.
ATK and Chennaiyin were the only two teams to have won the ISL crown twice before the start of the game.
“Last two seasons were very tough for me. I had a lot of responsibility when ATK brought me on board. I am really happy that I could finally win a trophy for ATK,” said Kotal who won the trophy with ATK in 2016 too under then coach Jose Molina.
Antonio Habas guided ATK to the title this time, becoming the only coach in the ISL to win two trophies. The Spaniard had won it in the inaugural 2014 season.
“We feel very good to be the champions and it’s a significant win in front of an empty stadium. Our only motivation was to become champions. Everyone wanted that trophy and we dominated the match in both halves. The most important thing after losing 3-1 (against Chennaiyin) in Kolkata is we defeated them 3-1 (in the final) in Goa,” said the 26-year old.
Expressing his happiness over friend Prabir Das’ success this season, Kotal said, “I am very happy for Prabir because he came from an injury and it was a difficult phase in his life. I am happy that I won a trophy with him. Last time we won a trophy (Federation Cup) together was in 2016.”
The former Mohun Bagan player congratulated his former club for winning the I-League and urged the green and maroon supporters to back the new merger side, which is being formed by ATK and Mohun Bagan from next season.
“I want to congratulate Mohun Bagan. This feeling of winning the trophy, whether the I-League or the ISL, is always different. Next year, as ATK-Mohun Bagan, I want to call out all our supporters to come and back us. Next year, we have the AFC (Cup) too and perhaps we won’t have to undergo the play-offs.”