Indian Super League’s newest club Hyderabad FC will be in action for the first time when they visit ATK at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Friday.
The Hyderabad-based club are up against the hosts who will be keen for a win after the opening day reverse at the hands of Kerala Blasters FC on Sunday.
ATK started the match well and took the lead through Carl McHugh but were punished by Kerala for errors at the back and profligacy in front of goal. While coach Antonio Habas feels that his side did not deserve to lose in Kochi, the Spaniard admitted that they have to improve against Hyderabad FC.
“I think maybe we need more balance in the team. We need to improve with the players,” Habas said ahead of the match. “We have seven new players in the team and it’s very difficult to create the perfect balance with a new side. We had many opportunities to score. We didn’t deserve to lose the match. But now we have to think about the match ahead.”
Star striker Roy Krishna, who had a couple of good chances to open his ISL account in Kochi, and Javi Hernandez will be key for ATK in attack while the likes of Michael Soosairaj will be expected to give them good support.
ATK will look to cash in on their home advantage against the newcomers.
“I have in my mind that we must win. We have to put everything in a tactical sense into our performances. The importance is to perform well in order to win matches,” said Habas.
Hyderabad FC, though newcomers, have plenty of faces who are all too familiar with ISL. With star players like Marcelinho and Marko Stankovic, all capable of match-winning moments, in their ranks, Hyderabad coach Phil Brown is confident of starting the season well.
“I’ve brought in over half of the Indian players with me from FC Pune City and two foreigners in Marcelinho and Marko Stankovic,” Brown said. “Marko has a great mentality and understanding of the Indian game. Marcelinho is the kind of player who can win games of football anywhere they play.”
Hyderabad have also some good attacking options in their ranks in Jamaican forward Giles Barnes and Brazilian attacker Bobo. However, Spanish midfielder Nestor Gordillo will not be available until late December, owing to a ban handed to him by the All India Football Federation.
An unfazed Brown, however, is looking forward to embarking on a busy schedule for the club on a positive note and establishing an identity for the club.
“When you’re a new team going into a new league, I think we have a responsibility to play the right kind of football to enhance ISL’s brand. There are 10 teams in ISL. But we have no identity yet. We have to get that identity. We have four games in 11-12 days and everyone will have an identity by then,” he said.
Can Brown’s team translate their manager’s confidence into a win on Friday or will ATK bounce back at home after a disappointing away result in style? The Kolkata crowd will be hoping for the latter as ISL football returns to the city of joy.