Robbie Keane scores the winner in first game as manager
Record Irish goalscorer is in temporary charge of Indian Super League side ATK
Robbie Keane has found form after returning from injury in India. Photograph: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
Robbie Keane made a successful managerial debut in the Indian Super League with his ATK side beating Northeast United 1-0 thanks to an early goal scored by the Irishman himself. The strike earned also him the Man (or “Hero”) of the Match award.
The former Republic of Ireland striker had been put in charge of the side at the end of last week following the departure of caretaker boss Ashley Westwood - who had himself taken over from Teddy Sheringham having started the campaign as technical director.
“It’s been an experience, to say the least,” said Keane of the campaign as a whole afterwards. “Overall, there have been a lot of ups and downs but I have enjoyed it. It’s been difficult of course, but I’ve enjoyed it.”
The season has been a poor one for a club that won the Indian Super League title last year, though. Keane missed a number of the games earlier in the season due to injury but when he did feature his quality showed. His latest goal, his fifth of the campaign and fourth in the three games the club has played in the last 10 days, was a wonderful first time finish that ultimately ended a run of seven defeats and a draw for the club.
ATK ultimately finished second last in the 10 team league, 14 points off the play-offs, with Sunday’s win, over the one side below them in the table, just their fourth in 18 games.
The low finish means that Keane’s side must now qualify for the post season Super Cup with the bottom four sides in the country’s two top flight leagues having to play off for the chance to join the higher placed 12 clubs in the competition’s round of 16. The play-offs start next week with the cup itself to get under way on March 31st.
“The most important thing for the team is the win,” said Keane of Sunday’s game. “We made some silly mistakes and they could have scored a couple from that but the lads worked hard to stop them getting balls in from wide positions, they put their bodies on the line, and we ended the game very well, we were very compact.
“It was important to get the win and hopefully we can take that into the play-offs. Hopefully we can get a win there to get us into the cup.”