Coach Steven Dias picks the positives after Mumbai outfit narrowly misses out on qualifying for the Hero I-League following a 1-3 away defeat to Delhi FC
The Ambernath United Atalanta FC team at Cooperage recently (L) and head coach Steven Dias
Mumbai outfit Ambernath United Atlanta FC went down fighting 1-3 to Delhi FC in their last Hero I-League 2 final round match at the Minerva Sports Complex in Mohali, Punjab, recently, to narrowly miss out on qualifying for the prestigious Hero I-League. Head coach Steven Dias, 39, a former India winger, said it was a disappointing end to an otherwise fabulous outing in their debut season in the third tier of Indian football. "This was only our third defeat since the club's inception two years ago. But it is very disheartening defeat," Dias told mid-day.
Ambernath United enjoyed a double winning season in their very first year, clinching the Mumbai's Elite title in 2021-22 and the Harwood Champions League in 2022. They followed it up by defending their Elite title this season and also adding the Nadkarni Cup this year to their list of championships. Representing
Maharashtra in the Hero I-League 2, they stormed into the final round, where they beat FC Bengaluru United [1-0] and Shillong Lajong [5-1] at the Cooperage before losing [3-4] to United SC in West Bengal. They needed just a draw from their concluding away fixture against Delhi FC to make a historic entry into the I-League, but it was not to be. "I don’t think Delhi were a tough side to beat. I think the boys were a bit tired after our last away match [against United SC at the Kalyani Stadium in Kolkata]."
He said, "It rained very heavily a day before that match so the ground was a bit heavy too. Also, we did not get enough time to train on a grass pitch. Throughout the season we train on turf, so this also could be one of the reasons," explained Dias, who however, insisted that his team will take the positives from the season and move forward. "We just needed a point to be champions and the boys gave their best. But, we will take this loss in a positive way. And, for me, personally, this is a learning experience to try and get better and stronger in the future. So, yes, we are confident that we will come back stronger," Dias signed off.