The Bengal outfit are currently sixth in the table, a position below their upcoming opponents.
ATK look to get back to winning ways in the Indian Super League, as they return to play at the Salt Lake Stadium for the first time in 2019, to face Jamshedpur FC. Steve Coppell’s men are desperate for a string of victories right now in order to catch up with the top-four. Playing playoff rivals on Sunday, they’ll aim to derail the Red Miners playoffs dreams and boost their own at the same time.
With the business end starting to kick in, both the team’s head coaches spoke before this intense match in the weekend.
Steve Coppell (ATK)
Steve Coppell took to the media for the first time in the new year. He also spoke on ATK’s attacking issues and said, “It’s been an issue all season(attacking problem). We work very hard to try and create more opportunities. It may well be that we have a different approach tomorrow to have a more attacking threat.
But you look at Jamshedpur, they’ve only lost one game and don’t give much away. It’s a kind of a cat and mouse game, a balancing act where you don’t want to make many go forward in fear of counter-attacks. We need to find the right balance between attack and defending.”
Talking about how he’ll fit Manuel Lanzarote and Edu Garcia into the same system, The Englishman said, “Good players play together. I don’t really wish to put them in their straight jackets. It’s come to the part of the season where you want to give your match winners the freedom to win the match if possible
“We don’t want to constrain them or put them in straight jackets. It’s an occasion where you give them the head and say play! The things that have been written about Solsjkaer at Manchester United. He’s allowed the boys to play and look at the change! Why can’t we do the same?”
Questioned on his thoughts on Jamshedpur and how he’ll hurt his former side, Coppell said, “Jamshedpur are very, very solid. They’ve only lost the one game They are obviously difficult to beat. They create many opportunities from set pieces and we have to be mindful of that. I know so many of the players that played with me last year. I know the strengths and weaknesses and I’ll hope to try and expose those as we’ll go forward. It’ll be a hell of a game for everyone watching.”
Finally, when asked about whether it’s time for ATK to throw in the proverbial kitchen sink, he explained. “I suppose. It’s not a question of throwing in the kitchen sink but we obviously have to score more goals. We have to create opportunities and do things we haven’t done in terms of shape.
We have to be more unrestrained in terms of attacking. We have to play a little bit more off the cuff. We talk about Lanza and Edu who are capable of scoring out of nothing. Jayesh and Hitesh, as well. We need the players to produce for us, and where better than at the Salt Lake?” he finished with.
Cesar Ferrando (Jamshedpur FC)
Cesar Ferrando was asked about whether the youngsters need to prove themselves with Jamshedpur in an injury-struck state. He said, ‘The young players are playing very well. Tomorrow we have to take a deep step ahead to win the match. Everyone has to play to their best. Be it 18 years, 25 or even more than that. It’s important to improve performance. Farukh is playing very well. I’m very happy with Jerry and Passi as well.”
When asked whether missing so many key players can be a disadvantage for them, The Spaniard explained, “I don’t want to give any excuse. Tomorrow, we are going to lineup the best team to play against ATK. If we lose the match, I don’t want an excuse for anything. We are still a very good team regardless of the players. For me, tomorrow my team is the best team in the world.”
Ferrando was also asked on whether Jamshedpur should’ve converted more draws into wins and whether that hurt them. He said, “Yes we have drawn a lot of matches. I think we played very well in many matches but it isn’t enough to win. We need more quality in the opponent box. We are a good team but if you want to score you need more quality in the final third. We need to improve our attack. But it’s football, you can win draw or lose. Tomorrow if we draw we need to win the next two matches against Mumbai and Pune. Tomorrow’s draw is only good for the top four teams.”
Finally, when asked whether losing the game could mean the end of the playoffs road for either team, he said, “One of the teams that will lose tomorrow is going to be out of the playoffs spot. The other team will get their chances boosted. There is competition to be in the top four. But after this match, you can’t lose any more matches and have to win all the remaining matches. Tomorrow’s match is a strong match for both the teams.”
ATK have a fully fit squad, with Balwant Singh recovering from an illness.
Raju Gaikwad and Michael Soosairaj are out with injury problems. This adds to the list of Tim Cahill(injured) and Carlos Calvo already being injured.
Arindam, Kotal, Johnson, Bikey, Ricky, Halder, Eugeneson, Thatal, Lanzarote, Garcia, Uche.
Subrata, Gurung, Tiri, Pratik, Dhanachanda, Memo, Arques, Morgado, Cidoncha, Jerry, Farukh.
The match will take place at 7:30 PM at the Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata on Sunday. On television, the match will be live on Star Sports 3. It will also be available to stream on Hotstar and JioTV.