This 25th December evening gifted the 18,000 Kolkata fans who chose football over Christmas celebrations with a mesmerizing and soothing game of football arguably one of the finest football matches in recent past. At the "mecca of Indian football", ATK went passed defending champions Bengaluru FC with 1-0 on the scoreboard.
The scoreboard does not do enough to depict the story of the match as it was a show of pace and skilful tactics all around the field finely tuned by two Spaniards from the two dugouts. But it was the Flying Tigers who took the gift home as former Wellington Phoenix forward David Williams scored a terrific goal from Jayesh Rane's assist in the 47th minute.
The Bridge caught up with the man of the match, who has scored five goals already, to discuss his thoughts, the plans in the halftime break and more. Following are excerpts:
Bridge: David, what's your take on the game?
David: I hear this is the first time we have beaten Bengaluru FC as in the previous two seasons ATK have struggled to grab points against them. We give this win to the fans I know some people hold on to this fixture close to their hearts so its nice to gift them something for the Christmas as we finally go back to the top of the table.
Bridge: Do you think you were the Santa Claus for the Kolkata fans tonight?
David: I think I was the Santa today for my side.(laughs)
Bridge: What was the mood like in the dressing room during the half time break?
David: The plan was just the same to keep the game going. We were the better team in the first half as we created more clear chances but I think Gurpreet had more to do than Arindam in the first half. Its always when one team get the goal they tend to set off in this stage and I think in every game that happens when one team is losing we put a lot of pressure on them and that did happen and it's just having its natural.
But we did not hang in there we fought and showed resilience to keep going and I think it was a mental battle for us to have a quick turn around from three or four days ago and back in up with a good performance. I think we entertained the fans as they came out in numbers again and they very passionate and I fill lucky and privileged to be a part of this club and play in front of the fans. It's a great stadium but would be nice if this atmosphere continue to prevail. Footballers need atmosphere as you know we wanna perform just not for everyone at home but for every one of our fans in the stands and I think tonight was the best ticketing shower.
Bridge: How will you rate Bengaluru FC, one of the heavyweights of Indian Football, as it was your first match against them?
David: They are good as they have pretty good quality, I just think we were more determined. We showed our quality in some games and failed in some but we kept fighting and going together as a team all through the ninety minutes and I think that's what got us the win tonight.
Bridge: What according to you were the weaknesses in the BFC team?
David: They took too much time to think about us, they had a ten-day break after their last game. Maybe, they thought they were quite fresher than us but we were as fresh as them and we showed more heart. You can play two games in two days but if you show more heart and if you are determined and have a mentality to win it you can do anything. Maybe they took a lot more time to understand what we are doing other than what they will do.
Bridge: Do you think the Roy-Willo-Mandi equation played a chief role behind this win?
David: Mandi loves to keep control of the ball and thus he joined the club. He has so much knowledge in football to bring it on the field. It's not just about only three players in the team as you know we had several other key players at Wellington last season who contributed the way we played. But we know each other what we like and we hope the bonding amongst us can spread all along the team. The Coach treats us very well as a team and we hope that we make a strong bonding among all of us in the squad.
Bridge: Its more than halfway through the season for now, where do you think you and your team will finish?
David: I think we will finish at the top. I have to be confident and I believe in my team and myself. If I have any doubts then we won't get to there where we wanna be and we wanna be on the top, we wanna win and we wanna be at the grand final.