Atletico became the first team to book a place in 2016 ISL final after they played out a 0-0 draw against Mumbai, on Tuesday.Atletico de Kolkata became the first team to book a place in 2016 Indian Super League (ISL) final after they played out a 0-0 draw in the second leg of the semi-finals against Mumbai City FC at Mumbai Football Arena, Mumbai, on Tuesday.
Atletico had won the first leg 3-2 at home. This will be the second final for the franchise in three seasons of ISL. Mumbai failed to breach Atletico’s defense despite having the numerical advantage on the pitch as Kolkata’s Robert Lalthlamuana was sent off for his second yellow card in the 42nd minute. Atletico have qualified for the playoffs in each of the last three seasons and coach Jose Molina is targeting their second title since 2014. “Atletico de Kolkata is doing a good job - the owners, team management. Everyone is working to achieve one common aim. Everyone is working in the same direction. They are trying to help the team. It's working well, and as a part of Atletico de Kolkata, I am really happy. Three semis in three years, we'll go for the second title now,” said Molina.
Molina went deep into his bench for the second leg as he dropped many crucial players including Helder Postiga, Iain Hume, Sameehg Doutie and six more players from the first leg. “We had to travel and so there was not much time to recover. We have a lot of good players like Javi Lara, Abhinash (Ruidas) and others. So why should I play with the same line-up? I am absolutely happy with them (those I left on the bench). We have to see recovery before putting our line up for the final,” he explained. The second leg of the playoffs ended in a brawl that broke out as soon as the referee blew the final whistle. Indian defender Pritam Kotal was seen with a deep cut under his left eye. Molina was disgusted by the incident. “I don't know. I couldn't understand. I don't know who started it but I think it's absolutely dirty. You should fight inside the pitch during 90 minutes. It should end within 90 minutes but it shouldn't continue ahead. I don’t like it and I couldn't see it all. Maybe you'll know on television, maybe you can analyse from it,” he added.
Mumbai coach Alexandre Guimaraes gracefully accepted the defeat and admitted that Atletico were the better team over the two legs. “We knew we had a tough rival (Atletico de Kolkata) who plays well and knows how to play in semis. It was a learning process for us. We contributed the whole season in a different style which everyone enjoyed. We are of course, disappointed as we wanted to get to the finals. However, it was required to get to the finals but they got through,” said Guimaraes. The former Costa Rican player was proud of his team, which has failed to qualify for the playoffs in the previous two seasons, despite them not qualifying for the final. “I just want to say that we had a fantastic season. We talked with the players during our Delhi tie that we have the possibility to choose the first or second spot. I told them they have to play to win always. They haven't had the chance to play the semis earlier. So I am very proud of them and I have no regrets. We had our chances and unfortunately we didn't convert and that's football,” added the ex-Costa Rican coach. Atletico will now meet the winners of second semi-final between Delhi Dynamos and Kerala Blasters in the final in Kochi, on Sunday, December 18.