Phil Brown vows to continue fluidity, Steve Coppell eyes playoffs race
The Kolkata outfit need a win against the Stallions to keep themselves afloat in the race for the playoffs.
Both teams are in with a fighting chance of making it into the play-offs. ATK, with 20 points from 14 games, are placed sixth on the table and are four points off the fourth spot. Pune City are a spot below with 14 points but have five matches left to play, giving them an outside chance of getting into the top four.
However, anything less than victory at the Shree Chhatrapati Shivaji Sports Complex here on Sunday is fatal to fatal either teams' hopes. And that could set the tone for an engaging tussle.
The hosts are coming into the tie on the back of a three-match winning run, the latest being a 2-1 away win over Chennaiyin FC. While the momentum is with the Stallions, new coach Phil Brown would want them to improve their defence which looked shaky at times in Chennai.
"My plan is to get my key players on the ball those who can win us the game. Last week (against Chennaiyin FC) we did that successfully towards the end, but we need that from the start. Even if we go a goal behind we need to win the game. We need to win the remaining games. We have to get our noses in front and then grow from that confidence," said coach Phil Brown.
Steve Coppell's side were not really prolific up front in the initial part of the season. They had scored only 10 goals in the 12 matches before the break but have found the net three times in two matches now.
After bringing in Edu Garcia in the winter transfer window, the team looks much more fluid and threatening going forward. The potential return of star striker Kalu Uche also adds more bite to the ATK attack. The interplay between Manuel Lanzarote, Garcia and Everton Santos has been exquisite at times, as Jamshedpur FC found out in ATK's last match which finished 2-1 in favour of the side from Kolkata.
A win for ATK will put them within a point of fourth-placed NorthEast United and boost the confidence of the squad as they enter the business end of the league.
"The mood has been one of anticipation, we look forward to every game. We have been (close) to the top four, we have to make that gap as small as possible. We go into the final three matches and we are still in contact, literally, anything can happen," said Coppell.
The Stallions do not have any absentees going into the game against the Kolkata outfit. Defender Matt Mills is back from his injury, however, is doubtful to make a start.
The visitors do not have any major injury concerns at the moment and are looking forward to the game against the Stallions.
FC Pune City- Karanjit (GK), Golui, Diaz, Panwar, Vila, Adil, Stankovic, Kuruniyan, Marcelinho, Robin, Hume
ATK- Arindam (GK), Kotal, Johnson, Arnab, Ricky, Hitesh, Pronay, Gerson, Lanzarote, Garcia, Santos
Did You Know?
It will be Phil Brown's first home game since taking the charge of FC Pune City
ATK has scored 13 times this season, one less than FC Pune City (14)
ATK #1 Arindam Bhattacharya has a saves percentage of 69.04% which is significantly higher than FC Pune City's Karanjit Singh (48.33%)
The match will kick-off at 7:30 PM at Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sporting Complex in Pune on Sunday evening. It will be broadcasted live on Star Sports and streamed via Hotstar and Jio TV.
Published: Sat Feb 09, 2019 07:05 PM IST