Party time is over for ATK and FC Goa as they lock horns in their first Indian Super League (ISL) engagement of the year at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Wednesday.
The motivation level will be high for both as they come with different experiences. Following its difficult winless streak in the first four matches, ATK posted two consecutive victories against Mumbai City FC and Delhi Dynamos to close the past year on a high.
Notwithstanding the 10-day Christmas and New Year break, the host will be keen to maintain the winning momentum.
ATK aims to reorganise at home
Coach Teddy Shringham must be a relieved man because of the wins, even though both were achieved with an identical 1-0 margin.
So far, the biggest problem for the defending champion has been the lack of goals. Two goalless draws apart, the team has managed to find the net only once each in three matches.
The 2-3 defeat to Chennai was the only occasion when ATK scored more than once this season.
Captain Robbie Keane’s spectacular strike against Delhi to earn ATK’s first home win should spur his fellow forwards. They will do a world of good by adding a bit of accuracy to their shooting skills against Goa.
The addition of Ryan Taylor in the place of midfielder Carl Baker has boosted the home side, which has eight points from six matches.
For the first time, Goa, which banked on the strength of its forward line and recorded four convincing wins out of its first five matches, could not score a goal when it lost 0-2 to Pune City FC at home.
The holidays may have helped the Sergio Lobera-coached side, which has 12 points from six outings, forget the reversal and focus on its strength.
Spaniard Ferran Corominas, who is leading the scorers’ list with eight goals, has played a major role in Goa’s attacking game plan and will continue to hold the key.
The tourist needs to keep its backline tight in order to allow its frontline work freely against ATK, which will have the backing of its passionate followers in the stands.
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