Both managers are relishing the opportunity to play at the iconic Salt Lake Stadium
Ahead of Sunday’s match in the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Salt Lake Stadium, the combatants of the showdown, ATK and FC Pune City met at a press conference in the city. ATK’s head coach, Teddy Sheringham, represented the franchise at the conference while Pune head coach Ranko Popovic followed suit later.
The English coach was asked about how he thinks he should set up his strategies against Pune. Answering the question, Sheringham made it clear it is completely about the fans for him. “We need to impress our fans,” he said before adding, “That is the passion of the ATK fans.”
The coach was also asked about the team’s marquee signing Robbie Keane. The former Northern Ireland international returned with an achilles injury from the side’s pre-season tour in Dubai and is yet to feature for the Bengal Tigers.
“Things have progressed well. He won’t be fit tomorrow,” Sheringham confirmed before adding, “he may be fit next week or the week after that.”
The 51-year-old encountered a question about his side’s inability to score in their first game. However, the ATK head coach answered the question resourcefully. “Kuqi had a good game. Robin too,” he said. Sheringham also revealed that the Indian international is eager to start the game against Pune City FC tomorrow.
“He can’t get to start tomorrow,” he said. “We will be hoping he will get in the scoresheet tomorrow,” he added.
The ATK gaffer was asked if he had seen his opponents play beforehand. “They are a very dangerous side. I saw their first game,” Sheringham answered. “We have a lot of respect for a lot of their players,” he added.
Talking about Sunday’s game against the Pune franchise, Sheringham revealed he is not at all taking the match for granted as this will also be his first time playing on the home ground.
“They understand what might be coming tomorrow so that is an advantage to them. We have to be in our top form,” he said. The ATK coach also mentioned how he feels the Indian players of the Stallions should be equally monitored on Sunday.
“We have to watch every one of them. Even the Indian boys. Tomorrow is a tough game for us,” he told.
Talking about the injuries of his side at the moment, Sheringham spoke in a gloomy manner as he revealed that “Ashutosh has a bit of hamstring problem. Jayesh has a knee problem. Shankar and Anwar are near full fitness.”
“We got a couple of achilles, hamstrings, calfs,” he added.
FC Pune City’s Serbian gaffer was asked about what will be his approach to the game against the defending champions to which he answered, “We will try to win three points,” before adding, “We will do everything to get the points.”
Despite an opening day defeat, Popovic revealed that he does not feel any side has an upper hand over the other at the point of the league as it is still starting. “I think at this point of the season, nobody is the clear favourite,” he said.
Pune City conceded three goals in their opening game. When asked if he has any defensive concerns, the gaffer replied, “No, I cannot talk about it now,” before adding “I told you, this happens, this is nothing from the tactics, it just happens.”
He also went on to say that last week’s defeat is over for his side now and everybody at Pune is looking forward to Sunday’s match against the defending champions. “What was yesterday, it was in yesterday. Not tomorrow,” he concluded.