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'Coaching in the ISL biggest challenge in the world'

Steve Coppell, Jamshedpur coach
Steve Coppell, Jamshedpur coach

The second day of ISL media interactions, in Kolkata on Sunday, had a decidedly more English touch to proceedings, with two of the four coaches, Steve Coppell of Jamshedpur FC and Teddy Sheringham of ATK, talking about their preference for a style of play dictated by wingers.

There was a mild moment of amusement in one of the individual media sessions - all media were divided into groups of three - when some journalists thought Delhi Dynamos coach Miguel Angel Portugal was breaking into Bangla by asking someone "biswash korli (did you believe it?") when he was actually talking about the need for Indian football to have someone like Virat Kohli.

The moment of the day came when one of the team's players spoke his opening lines out of a piece of paper in his mother tongue, with nobody on hand to understand or translate, and then was spotted later chatting in Hindi with another one of the Indian players at the gathering.

ESPN brings you the best excerpts and moments from Sunday's interaction.

On the first match

Teddy Sheringham, ATK coach

"I love that there will be 60000 screaming fans against us [ATK open the ISL season against Kerala Blasters in Kochi on November 17]. The pressure will be on, and we'll be in a hostile environment. As a footballer, you'd rather play in front of 60000 fans than 3000. It always helps when there are 60000 people shouting for you, but it can become a challenge if crowds turn. We'll be trying to do that."

Miguel Angel Portugal, Delhi Dynamos coach

"I know [FC Pune City midfielder Jonatan] Lucca from his time at Atletico Paranaense, and [midfielder] Marcos Tebar, [striker] Emiliano Alfaro, and [striker] Marcelinho. I spoke to Marcelinho when he hadn't been bought by Pune. I know [Pune coach Ranko] Popovic, and he likes to play 4-3-3 normally. Winning is a challenge. It will be very difficult because Pune have a very good team. I couldn't sign Marcelinho, Tebar and Alfaro because Pune had more money."

Mehtab Hossein, Jamshedpur FC midfielder

"We have to start from the first match. We must think about NorthEast United and Kerala Blasters [their first two opponents]. Playing at home would have been good, but there will be 60000 people in Kochi, which will be great. They have big stars in Iain Hume and Dimitar Berbatov, and even without any big names, 45,000 people come to ISL games anyway. If we pass these hurdles, we'll be happy."

Delhi Dynamos' head coach Miguel Angel Portugal

On the pressure of expectations

 Steve Coppell, Jamshedpur FC coach

"There's a pressure, but you just want to do well. Obviously I have been brought in to work at Jamshedpur because somebody saw something good and thought that I could do something well for the team. I want to do my best, irrespective of results, so that people say he did well. I have always maintained ISL is one of the biggest challenges in coaching in the world at the moment. You have players from around the world and 14 players from around the country. You are given just five-and-a-half weeks to prepare, and bring them to become one team with a common heartbeat."

Sheringham, ATK

"The club is trying to retain the championship but other than two or three players, everything has changed. Mr Goenka [ATK's principal owner Sanjiv Goenka] has made it clear he's accustomed to winning. There's no second-best at this club. I've been used to pressure in my playing days. Players have to realise that there's nothing as great as winning."

Joao de Deus, NorthEast United FC coach

"When I first spoke to [owner] John Abraham, he said this is a team that has never reached the playoffs in three years and let's try to reach that objective. I intend to do the best we can this season and hope for the best."

On football philosophy

de Deus, NorthEast

"You can divide a football game into six moments, but essentially two - one when you have possession and one when you don't. When you have the ball, you must score, and when you don't you must defend. How you approach this depends on the dynamics of the game. Ideas of a game are important, for instance, when we have ball possession, I always say the most important specific position is that of a goalkeeper, because it gives me more numerical superiority."

Portugal, Delhi

"I hope (to keep possession) but in football two and two don't always become four. I aspire for ball possession, but if I need to change, I will. We practice both for possession and no possession. We have to take the ball but not for enjoyment. Ball possession is a weapon for finish."

Coppell, Jamshedpur

"Being an ex-winger, I like to see a lot of crosses coming into the box. But what happens if your winger gets injured? The challenge is you have to work with a short squad, and you have to play five international players. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your principles and that compromises your preferred style of play. How good the pre-season was will only be evident once we start playing. Most important thing at this stage is to have as many fit players as possible. We have ticked that box."

ATK's head coach Teddy Sheringham with new signing Robbie Keane

On key players

de Deus, NorthEast

"To be honest, we have in our squad someone who in my opinion is the best Indian player, and that is [midfielder] Rowllin Borges. But this is not just about Borges or [striker] Hollicharan Narzary. We have also got [defenders] Nirmal (Chettri), Robert (Lalthlamuana), [midfielders] Sushil (Meitei), (Lalrempuia) Fanai, [defender Abdul] Hakku, Len [striker Seiminlen Doungel] -- they are all good players."

Mehtab, Jamshedpur

"We have a goalkeeper from the academy, Rafique Ali Sardar, who is the gutsiest goalkeeper I have seen after Subrata (Pal). In the next two-three years, he could be playing for India. We also have [striker] Jerry (Mahwminghthanga), who I think will be the next Sunil Chhetri."

Jayesh Rane, ATK midfielder

"There's a difference without (Robbie) Keane, because we have played most matches in pre-season with him. But we have players like Hitesh (Sharma). I hope the team does well in his absence."

On acclimatising

Coppell, Jamshedpur

"India and the ISL is a unique experience. Players who have been here before won't be surprised and hence will have fewer distractions." 

Conor Thomas, ATK midfielder

"The weather's not an issue for me. I do warm-weather training in Dubai in off-season. I've never played an ISL game, but when you step on the pitch, football is football, whatever nation you are in."

Albino Gomes, Delhi goalkeeper

"We were provided with a mask due to the pollution in Delhi. It's getting better, but one day it was very high. In Aizawl, I have experienced this, though that was mist and not smog."

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