In front of a spectator-less Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium in Goa, ATK and India full-back Pritam Kotal said while it was unfortunate to lift the trophy in front of an empty stadium, the desire to become ISL champions for a record third time motivated them.
“We feel very good to be the champions and it’s a significant win in front of an empty stadium. Our only motivation was to become champions,” said Kotal at the post-match media conference as quoted by IANS.
Spanish midfielder Javi Hernandez netted twice in the final as ATK defeated Chennaiyin FC 3-1 to grab their third ISL title, the most by any team so far.
In the wake of the novel coronavirus, the organisers were forced to stage the final behind closed doors. There were, however, about 200 people in the stadium as part of the organisers, media, and security inside the stadium besides the players and officials.
The virus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, has so far claimed 5,839 lives across the world, including 2 in India.
To stop the virus from spreading, the Indian government has already suspended all the visas till April 15 and has, meanwhile, advised every sports event to be held behind closed doors.
“We had to create the atmosphere at the pitch. The attention and the motivation are different and you feel that you need something more, but it’s very logical with the coronavirus problem and you have to support this situation,” said ATK coach Antonio Habas.
ATK are the only team to win the ISL trophy three times (2014, 2016, 2020). Meanwhile, runners-up of Saturday’s final Chennnaiyin have won it twice.