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New ATK head coach wants trophy for ISL league winners

New ATK head coach Steve Coppell on Thursday suggested that the ISL be expanded with the participation of 18-20 teams and a trophy given to the side finishing atop the table after the league stage.

"The league should expand. There should be a trophy for the league winners," Coppell told mediapersons after the team's jersey launch ahead of the 2018-19 season.

But the Englishman also admitted his love for the playoffs.

"I also like the excitement of the playoffs and it is a totally different thing, it's terrific and a nice icing on the cake at the end of the season," he said.

The coach asked the ISL bosses to copy leagues from around the world and rope in 18-20 teams.

"The ISL should look to copy leagues from around the world and have 18-20 teams in it. This will also help the national team to climb up the ladder at the international stage," he said.

Having earlier coached ISL sides Kerala Blasters and Jamshedpur FC, Coppell has started a new innings with two-time champions ATK this year.

"I am privileged to coach and manage a team like ATK," he said.

Recalling that as Kerala Blasters coach, he had lost to ATK in the 2016 final, Coppell said: "They (ATK) were gracious in victory."

Detailing how he landed his new job with Sanjiv Goenka co-owned franchisee, Coppell said he was undecided after last year's stint with Jamshedpur FC, when he received a call for working with ATK.

"After conversations with Raghu (Iyer, CEO) and Mr. Goenka, I saw they were enthused to be champions again," he said.

Describing Kolkata as the "hotbed of football", Coppell said ATK would have to embrace the "footballing nature and culture of the supporters in this city" as part of its journey to be ISL champions again.

"Maybe, it will be tough on occasions, but we will have to overcome it. Hopefully, we can deliver the right results."

ATK underwent a three-week pre-season training in Spain.

The side lost to Fulham 0-1, but had the privilege of becoming the only second ISL side to take on a current Premier League team.

Delhi Dynamos had earlier crossed swords with West Bromwich Albion.

"It came to us suddenly. It was the international week so some of the names were missing but they played most of the players who featured against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium the following week.

"They spent 100 million pounds in this window so even their squad players are still good enough at the world stage.

"Against Fulham, it was a case of competing hard rather than just trying to win the game. Slavisa Jokanovic organised his team well against us. They had 17 staff members and 16 players...shows how big a side Fulham is, it was fascinating," he said.

ATK host Kerala Blasters in the ISL season five here on September 29.

 

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