Two-time former champions ATK will look to make the most of their last two home matches beginning with Saturday’s tie against Odisha FC in the Indian Super League in Kolkata.
While the four teams for the ISL playoffs are almost certain, the battle has intensified for the race to clinch the AFC Champions League berth which will go to the table-toppers.
Goa remain in the lead following their 4-1 win against Hyderabad. Three points behind, ATK will hope to keep afloat in the race as the Kolkata franchise, with a match in hand, also has the advantage of goal difference against Goa.
ATK are on a three-match winning run starting with their 2-0 victory over FC Goa at home, while in their last home match here against NorthEast United FC a last-gasp goal by Balwant Singh saved the day for the Kolkata side.
The good thing for ATK is that their captain and Fijian star recruit Roy Krishan is in red hot form as he showed with his brace in their 3-0 rout of Jamshedpur FC in their previous outing.
The Fijian forward also looked clinical as they completely dominated from the start against Jamshedpur.
The potent ATK attacking trio of Edu Garcia, Krishna and Prabir Das will look to make the most of it and notch their first win against Odisha FC, against whom they settled for a goalless draw in their away fixture in Pune.
“I think that we had a fantastic performance in defence and attack. We have conceded only one goal in the last six matches,” coach Antonio Lopez Habas said.
“The plan is to go match-by-match. Our next match is against Odisha FC and that is our only objective. I only want to think about Odisha. I don’t want to think about play-offs and other things,” Habas said.
Struggling at sixth place with 21 points, Odisha FC still have the mathematical probability to make the last-four and they will look to put their best against ATK. It will be their last away match of the season.
“I think as a coach and as a team we have mathematical chances to make the playoffs and we will fight. Even knowing that ATK are a good side and we will play away from home, we are training with an aim of doing well and will try to win,” Spaniard coach Josep Gombau said.
“After this we have home games and we have done well at home. We are confident that we can get wins in the matches at home. Everyone is working hard and we are positive,” he said about their last two matches against NorthEast United and Kerala Blasters.
“We don’t have any suspension, we don’t have any injury which is good way to start this run of three matches with everybody ready to play. We know that this is the most important moment of the season. This is our last game away and we are preparing very well.”
OFC’s top scorer Aridane Santana is out of the tournament but before the last game against FC Goa, they signed Manuel Onwu on loan from Bengaluru FC.
Onwu scored a brace in space of six minutes in his debut for Odisha FC in their last match against Goa but only in a losing cause as they suffered a 2-4 defeat.
“In the first game, I was lucky to get goals to my name. Now, the important thing is to prepare for the next game. If I can score that will be for the good of the team.