ATK hosts FC Pune City in an inconsequential tie tomorrow…
Former Atletico de Kolkata coach Antonio Habas will be in the opponents’ dugout in Kolkata for the first time but the hosts will have nothing to worry as they meet FC Pune City in their final league clash of the Indian Super League at Rabindra Sarobar Stadium in Kolkata, on Friday.
Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) sealed qualification for the last four for the third successive season, effectively becoming the only team to do so, with a 1-1 draw at home against Kerala Blasters in their last match. The added incentive for ATK here is that a win could guarantee second spot in the standings, should Mumbai City avoid defeat to Delhi Dynamos in their last game. This could be vital, as teams finishing first and second will get to play the second leg of their semi-final at home.
FC Pune City (FCPC) had a mathematical chance of making the playoffs, but that was extinguished when Kerala held ATK to a draw. It is a shame, since this has taken the sheen off what could have been an edgy return to Kolkata for head coach Antonio Habas, who had led ATK to the title in 2014 and the playoffs last year.
Atletico De Kolkata’s head coach Jose Molina will be doing some chopping and changing with his squad in the last group stage match ahead of the semi-finals to give rest to his key players. Youngster Bidyananda Singh may make a start with Keegan Pereira and Kinshuk Debnath. Juan Belencoso will replace Iain Hume upfront and Helder Postiga may be rested.
On the other hand, FC Pune City has no card issues and injury concerns as coach Habas will have a full squad to fight against his former side and will look to end the season on a high. If he is able to do the same what he had done in Pune it will be huge relief for him to grab all six points from two games against his former club.
The inaugural season of the ISL saw FC Pune City clinch a 3-1 away win over the eventual champions before the teams played out a 1-1 draw in Pune. ISL 2015 witnessed the Stallions beating Kolkata 1-0 at home before ATK routed them 4-1 in Kolkata. Earlier this season, Pune edged Kolkata 2-1 at home.
Man to Watch
Stephen Pearson (Atletico De Kolkata): Stephen Pearson has shown fine form in midfield for ATK this season. He has scored two crucial goals in ATK’s last two matches and will be looking to add to that tally tomorrow. The 34-year-old Scot is a key presence in midfield as he also makes some important tackles breaking down opposition attacks. He will be looking forward to having a good game, given his recent form.
Anibal Rodriguez (FC Pune City): Anibal Rodriguez has led from the front for his team when it comes to attacking. The 33-year-old is Pune’s top-scorer with five goals and his last one came in the previous match against Kerala. He is a dangerous customer to deal with in the penalty area besides being equally good at curling in free-kicks into the back of the net.
Atletico De Kolkata (4-2-3-1): Majumdar, Kinshuk, Sereno, Tiri, Keegan, Pearson, Nato, Bidyananda, Lara, Belencoso, Doutie.
FC Pune City (4-2-3-1): Bete, Bheke, Narayan, Gourmangi, Augustine, Sissoko, Lenny, Lucca, Lyngdoh, Anibal, Oberman.
The match will be telecast live on Star Sports 1, Star Sports HD1, Star Gold, Star Gold HD, Jalsha Movies, Jalsha Movies HD, and Hotstar. You can also follow live commentary on Khel Now website by our ISL correspondent.
Report by Khel Now Correspondent Kushankur Rony Rakshit. Sports passionate and content writer. He is big football and cricket fan.