The Bengal Tigers will look to avenge the 1-4 loss in the reverse fixture earlier this season.
Defending champions ATK travel to the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex Stadium to take on FC Pune City in Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2017-18 on Saturday. The Kolkata-based outfit has never won this particular fixture, and have beaten the Stallions only once in seven attempts. However, they come off the back of a 1 – 0 success over NorthEast United FC in Guwahati and will look to rid their hoodoo of not having tasted success in Pune.
The Stallions have suffered three of their four losses so far at home and ATK head coach Teddy Sheringham made it clear that his side will look to take advantage of Pune’s poor run as hosts. “I think you always want to be planning regarding your home game,” the Englishman told the media at pre-match press conference.
“You would like to get used to playing at your home ground and build it as a fortress. There is an advantage of playing at home and no doubt whether your form is patchy or not, you would still rather be playing at home. But we have to take the plus points out of that (Pune’s poor home form) and know that they haven’t had the best results yet. So, we come into the game with optimism.”
The visitors suffered a 1-4 loss against Pune in the reverse fixture in Kolkata and Sheringham insisted that his team is keen to set things right. “The result is all we want to change,” he said. “That’s what it’s about. That’s what makes football so fun to be involved in. We weren’t happy with the 1-4 loss in the first game, and we are here to make amends for that. All that matters is the result at the end of the day.”
The former Manchester United striker also refused to blame any particular department for their inconsistent results this season. “Just because teams concede goals, it does not mean bad defending and if the team doesn’t score goals, it does not mean that the attack is not doing its job,” Sheringham said.
“As it happens, we have not scored as many goals as we would like. So, fingers do get pointed at the attackers. So, that is something that we are trying to work on. We have some fantastic goalscorers in our team and we hope they get goal-scoring opportunities. At the same time, we have to watch what goes on at the other end and build as a team. So, we will be looking at everything to improve in this game.”
Meanwhile, FC Pune City assistant coach, Vladica Grujic opined that the Stallions must be wary of ATK’s formidable side. “Tomorrow, we face the champions from last year. They are a very strong opponent. We know how they play. We know how strong Zequinha is, how strong Robin (Singh) is, how strong (Ryan) Taylor or Hitesh (Sharma) or (Conor) Thomas is. I know everyone now. And we have to mobilise. We have to give everything to try to win this game,” the Serbian said.
There was also good news for Pune fans after Grujic revealed that their Brazilian goal-machine Marcelinho will be returning to the side following a one-match suspension. “Marcelinho is ready for the match,” he said. “Everyone knows how important he is for our team. He is a person who makes the difference.”