Five reasons why ATK can qualify for playoffs this season
Written by: Anjishnu Roy
The Kolkata outfit had a disappointing season last term.
After finishing in ninth place last season, ATK have done some serious work to put in a better display this ISL season this campaign. They roped in Englishman Steve Coppell and also did some serious business in the foreign players' tangent. This time, the Red and Whites could very well put in performances, reminiscent of their glory days.
Kicking off against Kerala Blasters on 29th September at home, ATK will be aiming to start off the new campaign with a win. Here are five reasons, why the outfit can qualify for the playoffs this season:
5. Steve Coppell could be the X-Factor
Going into the 2018-19 season, ATK have appointed former Jamshedpur FC and Kerala Blasters coach Steve Coppell, who has vast experience of working in the Indian Super League. In his very first season in-charge, Coppell’s Blasters went all the way to the final only to fall short against ATK on penalties in 2016. In the next campaign, Coppell took charge of Jamshedpur FC and missed out on qualification for the playoffs by an extremely close margin on the very last matchday.
Last season, ATK were dreadful as three managers led from the dugout and the Kolkata-based club finished ninth. Coppell has stressed the importance of re-building the side after the horror show of last campaign and has declared that if he is incapable of doing that, he would have no qualms with being sacked. In Coppell, ATK have a man who is desperate to turn things around for the club and has a tested CV in India.
4. ATK have invested in good foreign players
What’s important to stress here is that six out of these seven players have prior experience of playing in the ISL and thus, would be a very healthy addition to the ATK squad that has stressed on a strong core of Indian players this time around.
3. Manuel Lanzarote will be an important asset
ATK have roped in former FC Goa midfielder Lanzarote, who was absolutely spectacular last season. He managed sublime numbers, scoring 13 goals and providing six assists to his teammates and was largely responsible for Goa’s strong run until the semi-finals. The winger has also been made the side’s captain for the 2018-19 season and the added responsibility will bring out the best in him.
He will be an important asset as a primary goalscorer and also when it comes to setting up his teammates like Uche, who also scored 13 goals for Delhi Dynamos last season. With Lanzarote in the side, ATK can be hopeful about qualifying for the playoffs and even managing to go all the way.
2. The West Bengal team have good squad depth
Coppell has assembled an extensive assortment of good players covering almost every position on the park with efficiency.
ATK’s squad depth this season- the majority of it being comprised of Indians is fantastic starting from the goalkeeping position to the forward line. This will prove invaluable handy while rotating players to allow rest to the core group and also add versatility and another dimension to their game.
1. ATK have a solid and resolute defence
ATK have brought in Arnab Mondal who was an integral part of the brute defence that won the inaugural ISL title. ATK have also signed defender Johnson who has immense experience of playing in India, having represented Bengaluru for the last five seasons and he will be in-charge of dictating the ATK backline. In Andre Bikey, ATK have a strong physical presence who has the experience of playing under Coppell before. Prabir Das and Sena Ralte are excellent choices at full-back who can exploit space, stretch the field of play as well as providing extra offensive support with their pace and dynamism.
It is clear that Coppell’s philosophy is securing the fort first and then catching the opponents out with lightning-fast counter-attacks. Therefore, it goes without saying that ATK’s strong defensive options will see greater emphasis and better communication under Coppell’s management.