The battle of the bottomers, ATK and Northeast face off in the final league match of the season.
ATK take on NorthEast United FC in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on Sunday in what will be both teams’ concluding fixture this season. ATK have endured a poor season that has seen them surrender their Hero ISL title but avoiding defeat would at least ensure that they don’t finish last.
Following Ashley Westwood’s resignation as ATK’s interim head coach, Robbie Keane was announced as the team’s player-cum-coach. The Irishman addressed the media ahead of the match and he discussed his agenda going into the fixture. “My focus has been solely on the team, organizing the team for this game tomorrow,” Keane said. “My concentration has been for the last two games to get the players ready for the game tomorrow as it is our last game and an important game for us as a team and my focus has been solely on it.”
Speaking about his mentality before taking to the field as player-cum-coach, the Republic of Ireland’s all-time record scorer stated, “I have been helping with the coaching sessions so I am very relaxed and very comfortable in this position and I think because of the two days that we had, I think everybody now is ready to perform for the game.”
The former Tottenham Hotspur striker also explained what’s gone wrong for ATK this season. “There are times when things are going really well and sometimes when they’re not going well,” Keane remarked. “Obviously this year, it hasn’t been a good season that happens in different circumstances. We are not to make any excuses whatsoever, as players we have to look out for ourselves and ask yourselves that ‘are we doing the job in the best way we can?’ There were so many injuries and so many changes with the team but that’s in the past for me and it’s gone.”
The 37-year-old revealed how he was preparing his team for their final fixture. ”It’s only been two days (since I’ve taken over) and it will be very hard to implement something,” admitted Keane. “I don’t have a magic wand that will change everything and it’s very hard to do that in two days. We have two days and we have prepared hard the last few days as well as we could do and we look forward to the game tomorrow.”