Disappointed at losing the trophy but glad to have made the summit clash at least, Kerala Blasters coach-cum-player David James praised newly-crowned Indian Super League champions Atletico de Kolkata, saying the best team won the inaugural football tournament.
“I had said they were the best team in the competition and I was hoping that we would still beat them and we had chances too to beat them. It just goes to show that you have to play to the final whistle. A minute before the end, we switched off on a set piece, and it cost us the match,” the 44-year-old former England goalkeeper said.
James took pride that his team made ATK work hard till the last minute and said it was a bittersweet result for him.
“Disappointed of course by losing the game but I have to be positive about the fact that my side got to the final. Pushed the champions to literally the last minute. A bittersweet moment I would say,” he said.
The former Liverpool and Manchester City goalkeeper said there were some tense moments in the match but Atletico controlled the game at crucial times.
“Kolkata started so well in the competition. I said they were the best team, and the best passing team, ball control team in the competition. There were other flair players granted for other teams but today they seemed to control the game at the right times. Not necessarily the most attractive game of football, granted, but it’s a cup final and got two team’s with very good defences.
“Of all the defensive records, we have the best in the league section and they probably had it in the last six or seven games. It was going to be a tight affair. Edel produced a wonderful save in the fitting moment of the match to keep Chops (Michael Chopra) out,” he said.
The former Newcastle United striker Chopra had some good goal-scoring chances but couldn’t manage to find the back of the net and James said it had been tough for the Indian origin player in the tournament.
“In the tournament I think it has been very difficult for Michael. He had injury problems to start with. I was going to start him against Atletico in the away fixture. He picked up a big injury in the training session a day before. But he has worked hard. We thought he might be out for the whole campaign. He has worked hard, he has justified his selection,” he said.