A win for the visitors will take them to the top of the table on goal-difference.
ATK face a daunting test as they host Sergio Lobera’s FC Goa in a tempestuous ISL clash on Wednesday. The Gaurs are looking for redemption after being handed their first loss at home to surrender top spot to Bengaluru FC. Despite having two clean-sheets in a row, the West Bengal club will have to be wary of the opposition’s attacking threat which has blown away many teams this season.
It’ll be a vital match for the home side, who need to win this one to keep up in the playoffs race heading into the festive month. A win for the Gaurs could take them back to the top and re-establish their comfortable lead over the rest.
Steve Coppell (ATK)
The Englishman believes that the presence of foreign players is good for the ISL
Steve Coppell was in mixed emotions when speaking about whether ATK dropped points against Mumbai. “I felt we had the better game against Mumbai. Looking back, we had opportunities to win the match, but we didn’t. However, I felt the overall performance was strong being on the road against a Mumbai side who had kept three clean-sheets themselves.”
On his plans for stopping the dangerous Ferran Corominas he said, “He’s a good player. He needs someone to take the bullets for him. I think the best way to stop him is to stop the source of his supplies. I think that is the challenge for anyone playing against Goa. They commit so much going forward, that if you can cut off their supply you have chances of getting a result.”
When asked about whether he feels the Indian players are underperforming as compared to the foreigners he said, “If you look at many teams, the foreigners are very dominant. Most of the positions our Indian players play, other teams have important foreigners in the spine of the team. It’s an ongoing process for many Indian players. I feel there are some exceptional foreigners in the league. Rubbing shoulders with them helps to improve. I feel there is still time for the Indian players to grab a hold of this league and show what they’re capable of.”
Andre Bikey has given two strong performances in his first two starts. Coppell hailed his overall contribution and said, “Even when he wasn’t playing, Bikey’s an influence. On a daily basis, he’s so friendly and encouraging for everybody. He speaks in two-three languages. He communicates with everyone.”
“Andre brings out the personality in everybody including the Indian players. In the last two games, you’ve got remember he’s an international for many years and has got vast experience. He’s brought that to calm us down defensively and long may that continue,” he explained.
When asked about whether his side’s lack of firepower upfront is worrying him Coppell said, “It’s bound to have an impact. When you compile a squad of players, when it was compiled, Plan A was Kalu Uche-Manuel Lanzarote. That was the attacking punch. Kalu had minor injuries then he ruptured quadriceps muscles. The club acted very quickly to get (Emiliano) Alfaro, a proven player. Plan B then came into place.”
“But before that had a chance to be performed, it’s removed. We’ve not gone to Plan C. We’ve had Eli whose come in, who didn’t arrive as soon as we would’ve hoped. But, after a few training sessions, he’s beginning to settle in. We’re now at Plan C. Would you have started with Plan C? No. But, we’re not complaining. We’re making do with what we have,” he said.
Ankit Mukherjee has been ATK’s break-though youngster and Coppell had much praise for him. “When the squad was formed, he was the third-choice right-back. Now, he’s come in and he’s playing. For him to make that advance shows how hard he’s been working to improve his game and his all-round contribution to the team.”
“He’s quick, enthusiastic and he is the kind of player coaches like to work with. In many ways, he’s like a sponge. He accepts everything you say and thinks about it and puts in into practice,” he added.
Sergio Lobera (FC Goa)
Lobera believes that goals can help get over defensive vulnerabilities
Sergio Lobera started addressing the press by speaking about what star man Corominas brings to the team, “I think Coro was the best player in the team last season. We were very lucky to be able to keep him in the team after getting many offers from other clubs. He’s a great player and does a lot of things on the pitch which helps us and also off the pitch to motivate the players.”
Lobera remained respectful of ATK’s potential, but gave an assertive explanation saying, “I think ATK’s a team which seems like they’re obliged to win the game. We’re more excited to win games. The team they’ve to build is like they’ve chosen the best international and Indian players from the country to become champions.”
“Keeping that in mind, tomorrow we’ll be hoping to get one past them. We recognize the potential they have. They’re a direct rival for us and we want to keep a gap between us and themselves,” he added.
Lobera gave a stern answer when questioned about whether he feels his team is at the place they wanted to be, “I think every team is where they deserve to be right now. Ultimately, what happens on the pitch is the merit of what you do throughout the season. For us, we’re taking every game at one time. That’s why it’s very important for us to win this game.”
When asked about whether Goa are over-dependent on Corominas’ goals he said, “It is true that he’s important for us, but if you see the rankings, there are other goalscorers in the top charts for us as well. If you see accordingly our center-backs have more goals than some of the strikers in the league,” he concluded.
ATK have no fresh worries after losing both strikers Emiliano Alfaro and Kalu Uche to long-term injuries.
Mohamed Ali and Hugo Boumous are suspended for the match. Apart from that, there are no more injuries and Goa have a fully available unit.
Arindam, Ankit, Johnson, Bikey, Ricky, Gerson, Pronay, Thatal, Lanzarote, Balwant, Santos.
Nawaz, Seriton, Chinglensana, Fall, Mandar, Lenny, Jahouh, Jackichand, Brandon, Edu, Corominas.
Did You Know?
ATK has taken the least number of shots in the ISL so far (68). They have also taken the least number of shots from inside the box (29).
9 out of 22 goals for FC Goa have resulted from crosses. They could only score 7 goals from crosses in the entirety of last season.
FC Goa has conceded the second most number of goals (42) in the ISL since last season. In the league stage, they have also kept the joint-lowest clean sheets (3) since last season.
The Match will take place on Wednesday at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata from 7:30 PM onwards. It will be telecasted on Star Sports 1, Star Sports 1 HD and will be available to stream on Hotstar and JioTV.