AIFF Super Cup | Steve Coppell blames himself for Balwant Singh’s poor ISL season

AIFF Super Cup | Steve Coppell blames himself for Balwant Singh’s poor ISL season

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ATK manager Steve Coppell has stated it was his playing Balwant Singh in various positions that eventually led the striker to have an underwhelming season in the Indian Super League. The former Reading manager has also asked his side to be aware of Chennaiyin FC prowess from set-pieces.

Balwant Singh had moved to ATK last summer following a decent season with Mumbai City where he managed to score six goals and two assists from 16 games. However, while he was expected to improve in a more star-studded ATK set-up, he ended up scoring just once in 15 games. 

Now, after the season got over and ATK have reached the semi-final of the AIFF Super Cup where Balwant Singh has scored four goals in three matches, his manager Coppell has taken the blame upon himself for the striker not hitting the form in the league.

"When we came back from the end-of-season break, he has been right on the top of his game in training on a daily basis. During the course of the season, I blame myself for playing him in left side midfield, right side midfield, not often as not as a number 9. It's not the position he wants to play," Coppell explained.

"In the two games, you can see how much he relishes leading the line and being the number 9 we all know he is capable of. He has done terrific and I hope he continues that form tomorrow (Wednesday)," said Coppell, reported Goal.

Both ATK and Chennaiyin FC have won the ISL title twice and are very much acquainted with the art of winning knockout matches, with the second semi-final of the elite knockout tournament expected to be an intense one. And Coppell has warned his players about Chennaiyin’s disciplined set-pieces that changed their last game against NorthEast United.

"Their key player is Raphael Augusto in possession, CK Vineeth has proved what a spectacular goalscorer he can be. The secret of their success last season was set-pieces and the number of goals they scored from set-pieces. As you saw against NorthEast , suddenly you see them a lot more potent in set-pieces. You have to be able to take care of what they do and at the same time, we have to hurt them.

"It's a tough challenge but the prize for either side is pretty much worth it. So you will find the full commitment from both the teams," added the Englishman.

Super Cup has been played under controversial conditions with many I-League pulling out of the competition although ATK have played their opponents in the pre-quarters, unlike most other ISL teams. With more walkovers two yellow cards have equalled a suspension for the subsequent game in the tournament and Coppell has criticized it stating that his side would have a disadvantage with Pronay Halder set to miss the clash.

"We have played more games than some of the other teams which puts us in a disadvantage in terms of bookings. Given the unique nature, this year of this competition, there might have been a different interpretation of the booking rule because nobody wants to see a team get through to the final on merit and then find that two, three or four players are not available for the final because of bookings. I don't think it's in the best interest of the competition," he explained.

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