Mumbai City host ATK in grudge ISL clash, look to avenge last season's playoff defeat
Written by: Sabin Castelino
The Islanders are perfect at home while the Bengal Tigers are still looking for their first win of the season.
Last season the Bengal Tigers was the only obstacle in the path of Mumbai boss Alexandre Guimares as he intended to reach the final of the league. But, a narrow loss away from home and the suspension of Diego Forlan, coupled with a goalless draw at home meant that Mumbai City were denied a place in their first ISL showpiece.
They now meet again at the homestead of the Islanders, with both teams looking to pull one over the other and keep their season going in the right direction.
Watch: Mumbai City 1-0 Chennaiyin FC highlights
Mumbai's mantra this season has been to adapt and adjust and they have done so spectacularly well. Guimares can't be faulted for his pragmatism given the meagre resources with which his team has been built and in spite of which he has produced wonderful eye-catching football.
Mumbai have suffered two away defeats and a draw on the road so far, but have a perfect record at home. They have utilized a brand of deep-lying football in tandem with a persistent counter-attacking style which has gotten them wins at home.
Even their substitutes have made massive contributions whenever they are let on to the field of play. The prime example of this would be Thiago Silva, who had ruptured his ACL during his time in Brazil and hasn’t yet reached full fitness yet, but has dazzled everyone with his bursts of quality every time he gets on the pitch for the Islanders.
ATK, on the other hand, are a team in tatters. Their midfield is sparse and their bench too is highly unfit. Having to buy players before the start of the traditional Indian transfer window, highlights the problems that exist in the Kolkata camp. They visit Mumbai winless in four games and will look to try and take away at least a point against a team doing very well at home.
Apart from this, there are rumours of a rift between the Manager, Teddy Sheringham and the Technical Director, Ashley Westwood as they seem to be at loggerheads with each other over the team’s direction and training methods which have resulted in them amassing injuries. A defeat at the hands of Mumbai may actually be the final nail in the coffin of the reigning champions' title defence.
Mumbai City’s, as well as ATK’s, injury roster hasn’t seen any drastic changes and does not seem to be any different at least for the upcoming fixtures. Mumbai’s absentee list includes Leo Costa, Aiborlang Khongjee and Zakeer Mundampara who will be the long term absentees and none have been added to the short-term list.
ATK’s star player Robbie Keane is back from injury and debuted against Chennaiyin FC. Midfielder Eugeneson Lyngdoh is out for the rest of the season and winger Carl Baker is likely sailing in the same boat. Whilst Jayesh Rane is doubtful for the game, Ashutosh Mehta and Anwar Ali have returned to full fitness and could feature.
Mumbai have played the most number of games against ATK owing to the two legged tie in the semi-finals in the last edition. Both teams have three wins and two draws each in their previous encounters and are currently level on the head-to-head count. They will look to do one better and produce a spectacle in the upcoming tie.
Man to Watch
Achille Emana-Mumbai City: Emana’s been one of the underrated players this term for the Islanders and has been a work-horse under the guidance of the general Guimares. He will look to score against Kolkata and make sure that he uses his attacking prowess to impress the mighty home support which made the roof vibrate when he stepped up to take the penalty ahainst Chennai.
Hitesh Sharma-ATK: It is the homecoming of the Mumbai Boy, titled the prince of Cooperage for his exploits in the colours of Mumbai FC. Although, he will be wearing a different strip this time, he will be sure to find home comfort in his place of origin and look to shine on the pitch as he has so often done for ATK this season.
Watch: Chennaiyin FC 3-2 ATK highlights
Did You Know
- ATK are still without a win in this edition of the ISL.
- There has been a grand total of 24 goals scored between the two teams in the eight times they have faced each other.
- In the semi-final second leg at the Mumbai Football Arena almost 25% of the spectators sported a ATK jersey and were very vocal in their support for the away team.
The match will be broadcast live on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports 2 HD from 7:45 pm onwards. It will also be available on Hotstar and Jio TV.
Published: Sat Dec 16, 2017 07:11 PM IST