ATK will look to bounce back from their defeat to Kerala Blasters when they host league leaders FC Goa in an Indian Super League clash at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Saturday.
Antonio Habas’ side were dealt a shock blow by Kerala Blasters at their own turf in the last game. A furious Habas was sent off by the referee at the end of the game for his actions on the touchline and hence will be missing the game against Goa.
ATK are third on the table with 21 points from 12 matches and are only three points behind Goa. With a chance to reclaim the top spot, Habas will be hoping that his frontline, led by the in-form Roy Krishna, can fire against the Gaurs defence that has displayed a tendency to concede goals at crucial junctures in the game.
“On Saturday we are playing in Kolkata. It is a special place. We had beaten Bengaluru. So if we can beat them (FC Goa), we will top of the league,” said ATK assistant coach Manuel Perez Cascallana.
Only Aridane Santana has scored more goals (9) than Krishna (8) and the Fijian has managed to combine expertly with his strike partner David Williams who has produced five goals and three assists so far. However, Williams is set to miss his second consecutive match due to injury. Midfielder Edu Garcia is set to return to the first team.
With 25 goals from 12 matches, Goa have been running rampant in the final third this season. Ferran Corominas has scored eight goals and Hugo Boumous is having his best season in Goan colours, with four goals and assists each to his name and he has been ever-present in midfield. Lobera’s team also leads the league in terms of tackles, touches and passes as they look to dominate possession in all of their matches. Brandon Fernandes, who leads the league for assists (5), is suspended for the tie as he picked up his fourth yellow card.
“It is very important for all teams. It is not only about the first four positions. We want the top position. Tomorrow is a big challenge because it is a big opportunity for us. The focus is to win tomorrow because it is a very important match that can decide the top position,” FC Goa head coach Sergio Lobera stressed on the importance of claiming the top spot in the standings.
ATK are likely to drop deeper to deal with the threat of Boumous and Corominas and with Ahmed Jahouh being a strong presence in the centre of the pitch, Habas may rely on quick transition and counter-attacks to hurt Goa’s goal. Only once has Goa fired blanks in front of goal this season but the ATK defence will be difficult to crack. With the top spot at stake, neither team will want to drop points.