Their qualifying hopes dashed, two-time former champions ATK will look to conclude their campaign on a winning note when they face an in-form Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League in Kolkata on Sunday.
ATK suffered a crushing 1-3 defeat to Mumbai City at home for their second successive loss and sixth overall to be eliminated from the playoff race.
For a brief period, after the season resumed in January, it looked as if ATK had completely turned things around. With the signing of Edu Garcia, ATK looked like a potent threat, picking up an impressive 2-1 against Jamshedpur FC earlier this month.
However, dropping points at FC Pune City and then losing 0-3 at FC Goa meant they were back in the elimination zone before Mumbai completed the formalities in the previous match.
Under tremendous pressure, it would be interesting to see how ATK coach Steve Coppell manages the team against the resurgent Dynamos, who are on a six-match unbeaten run.
“Who knows whether or not I’ll be here next season. It’s not my decision,: Coppell said. “We still have one game left this season. The league will get more demanding so you need more good players who are resilient and have the ability to win games.”
“We haven’t been consistent enough this season and I didn’t feel our balance of the squad wasn’t there,” the Englishman said reflecting on another trophy-less season.
The visitors who start at the eighth place, three points behind No 6 ATK however are fresh from their spectacular back to back wins over Bengaluru FC and Pune City in a six-match unbeaten run.
Having spent their first 11 matches in the competition without a single win, the Dynamos have found their mojo back but it’s too little, too late for them as they also are out of the playoff race and have two matches left in the season.
The highlight of their season came during their outing against Bengaluru as the Lions came from behind to beat the table toppers 3-2.
On the attacking front, Delhi have the ability to cause problems with the likes of Ulises Davila and Lallianzuala Chhangte in their ranks.
Indian youngster Daniel Lalhlimpuia made a big impact against Bengaluru with a brace and will be hoping for yet another fine show against the home team ATK.
In defence, Gianni Zuiverloon and Marti Crespi will be tasked with keeping the likes of Kalu Uche, Garcia at bay.