Both sides are vying to end their season on a higher note.
ATK host Jamshedpur FC in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday. The defending champions come off the back of two successive defeats, which have them rooted to the eighth position on the points table. With hopes of qualifying for the playoffs gradually fading, the two-time champions need a turnaround of fortune to get past a defensively robust Jamshedpur side.
ATK’s interim head coach Ashley Westwood spoke to the media at the pre-match press conference and began by informing them about the injuries in the squad. “Ryan (Taylor) is suspended as well as injured. Robbie Keane is due back on Sunday. He feels he’s fit and ready to train. I’m sure he’ll hit the ground running soon. Four to six weeks is just a guide for Zequinha’s status, but he could be available before that. So, we have five foreigners to play with,” he revealed.
The 41-year-old went on to explain what has gone wrong for the two-time champions this season. “Obviously, we’ve had some injuries,” he remarked. “We’ve had a little bit of tough luck, seven games on the road of the first 10. There are many reasons why. It takes a lot to gel in a new team together. It was always going to be tough when you put 23 new players together. That’s the challenge as a coach. You have to move forward.”
When asked about his thoughts on making the playoffs, Westwood replied, “We’re as confident as we can be. There was a bit of a reaction in the last game. We were unlucky with the three injuries but there were encouraging signs. The players showed aggression and energy. I’m sure we’re going to build on that tomorrow.”
Jamshedpur FC visit the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata to take on defending champions ATK in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 on Sunday. The league debutants were edged 2 – 1 by FC Pune City in their previous fixture and would look to pick up a win in front of Kolkata’s vociferous fans, to stay alive in the race to the top four.
Speaking to the media during the pre-match press conference was Jamshedpur’s head coach Steve Coppell, who started off with how he assesses the encounter. “It’s a difficult one to predict,” he stated. “It’s been a difficult time for ATK with the transition. We are in between a difficult period of games. I’m expecting a tough game. Now that there’s a distance building between the top four teams and the rest, it’s up to the other teams to try and bridge the gap. I’ve been there and I know what it’s like. I expect a very competitive match.”
The Englishman also spoke highly of Wellington Priori, who has made an immediate impact after his signing for the club. “He (Priori) has given us a lot of fluency going forward,” remarked Coppell. “We just had an outstanding start to the season with regards to our defence. We do our best to get a clean sheet and we obviously try and score goals. He’s given us that extra bit going forward.”
On being asked if he believes Jamshedpur can reach the playoffs, the 62-year-old revealed, “To be honest, I don’t even think of the playoffs. My philosophy has been just about winning the next game. Every match has been very competitive. We are neutral at the moment. We need to get into the positive to make the top four. We are hopeful to have a convincing run.”
Coppell also updated the media regarding Sameehg Doutie’s injury. “Sameehg has been affected by injuries this season,” he informed. “You tear your hamstring, you rehabilitate, then you push too far and you suffer. On a couple of occasions, he’s pushed too hard and found himself certainly pushed backwards. He’s very close to being fully fit.”