Free Press Journal

Zico slams hosts ATK for not letting Goa practice


Kolkata: Brazilian legend and presently FC Goa coach in the Indian Super League (ISL) Zico on Saturday lambasted the Atletico de Kolkata management for not allowing them to practice at the Salt Lake stadium ahead of their tie here on Sunday.

According to rules of the tournament, the opponents should be given a chance to train for atleast 45 minutes before match-day and that did not happen. Even the home team ATK are not being able to practice at the stadium, instead they have opted to train at the Bidhanagar Municipal Ground and reportedly when Goa asked if they could do the same, the home side denied them the opportunity due to time related issues.

“According to the rules the hosts should provide us with a suitable place to practice and we could not practice here in the stadium. But if you are in Goa it isn’t like that, we respect our opponents and even if we don’t train at the pitch in Fatorda we let our rivals train,” Zico said via his interpreter in the pre-match media conference.

“The hosts have not respected the rule of the ISL. I wasn’t suppose to come here (for the media conference) but then for all of you (media persons) I decided to come,” he added. Goa come into the encounter at the back of a 7-0 win against Mumbai. And despite their rampant form, Zico said their feet were on the ground.

“We always play to win. We just cannot relax, we play to get the best result possible. The victory (7-0 against Mumbai City FC) did not decide anything, we still have out feet on the ground,” the 62-year-old said. Speaking about their Nigerian striker Dudu Omagbemi who scored a hat-trick in his first appearance in the last tie, Zico said: “He is a very good player, I know him from last year when he was playing for FC Pune City. And now that we had the opportunity of picking him, we did not waste time. “If I knew that he was without a contract, I would have probably picked him up in the beginning.”

Asked about the differences from the first edition, Zico said: “It is how teams are playing away. This year most teams have done well in away matches, which has been the difference from last season. Also the average age of the foreigners is less, so it helps in having pacy football.”

Lastly the former Japan coach who did wonders with the national team from 2002-2006 said if India need to do well in world football they have to play against stronger teams abroad. “I could not see any of India’s games (World Cup qualifiers). But I think they need to play more games together as a unit to do well. I have been here for the last two years and I haven’t seen the Indian team going on a trip to South America or somewhere else. They can only get better if they play better opponents,” Zico, who scored 48 goals in 71 matches for Brazil, said.

“Personal example is Japan, look how they have turned it around and it all started when I was the coach. You have to play against stronger teams,” Zico, who played three consecutive FIFA World Cups starting from 1978, added.