ATK aims for consistency as Goa seeks its first points

FC Goa has not managed to defeat ATK in the previous six meetings between the two clubs.

The Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, which is seeing top football action for the first time in decades, did give the host a favourable start when it held the defending champion Chennaiyin FC 2-2 in its first match barely a couple of weeks ago.   -  Sportzpics

The champion of the inaugural edition Atletico de Kolkata (ATK) would be drawing strength from a fairly successful sojourn as it returns to base to face one of the most feared sides of the Indian Super League, FC Goa, on Sunday. The Rabindra Sarobar Stadium, which is seeing top football action for the first time in decades, did give the host a favourable start when it held the defending champion Chennaiyin FC 2-2 in its first match barely a couple of weeks ago.

Now, having beaten Kerala Blasters (1-0) and holding a rejuvenated FC Mumbai City 1-1 as a visitor in the last two outings, the ATK camp sounded motivated enough to continue the unbeaten run. Placed third with five points from three matches, ATK has reason to feel confident against Goa, which is currently lying at the bottom of the table losing all three matches it has played so far.

What will be boosting up the host ahead of the encounter is the favourable record it enjoys against FC Goa. Atletico Kolkata has remained unbeaten in the previous six meetings it had with Goa in the past two seasons. The new Spanish coach of ATK, Jose Molina chose to be cautious about this fact and warned his team against complacency.

“We have played three good matches but I don’t want to be extra confident. It will be a tough match as Goa will fight hard and try to win their first points,” Molina said ahead of the match on Saturday.

The availability of ATK’s marquee player Helder Postiga continues to remain a mystery. The Portuguese World Cupper, who could play only 74 minutes before getting injured for the rest of the season in 2015, is recovering from a chest injury he suffered against Kerala Blasters in the second round and Molina did not sound very hopeful of getting him back soon. In such a situation Juan Balencoso is likely to remain the spearhead in the 4-2-3-1 formation Molina has adopted so far.

The host has bolstered the defence by signing in the Portuguese central defender, Henrique Sereno Fonseca as a replacement for the injured Pablo José Gallardo Zurera. This will give Molina some relief as his other defender Tiri is reportedly nursing a leg muscle injury.

For Zico and FC Goa, this has been the worst start in the ISL so far. The outspoken Brazilian superstar has time and again indicated that the team is yet to shed off the scars of the bitter final last year. But Zico sought to remain positive ahead of the match. “We have no points now, but if we win tomorrow we will be just two points behind ATK. Our aim is to be in top-four. The two teams which won the title previously were not on top of the table after the league stage,” Zico said adding that he has no injury problems.

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