ATK looking to replicate outstation success at home

Defending champion Atletico de Kolkata will look to pick up from its good showing in the ‘away’ matches, when it takes on the bottom-placed Chennaiyin FC in a Hero ISL encounter at the Salt Lake Stadium.

Atletico de Kolkata coach Antonio Lopez Habas will be hoping his team can get back to winning ways against Chennaiyin FC.   -  SPORTZPICS

Defending champion Atletico de Kolkata will look to pick up from its good showing in the ‘away’ matches, when it takes on the bottom-placed Chennaiyin FC in a Hero ISL encounter here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Wednesday.

The return of its marquee player and Portuguese striker Helder Postiga will be a huge boost for the host, who now have the advantage of playing its last four league fixtures at home. Having docked 14 points from 10 matches, ATK currently are the team with the best away record. The holders have picked up 11 points winning three and drawing twice in the seven matches they played away.

Antonio Habas, the Spanish head coach of ATK, will be looking to replicate this form at home, where his team has won just once and lost the other two so far. A sputtering attack has come to hinder his team’s progress at home despite Habas professing an offensive “protagonist and not antagonist” approach.

Injuries to key players have limited the options for Habas, who often had to depend on his reserves to stitch together a playing eleven. But with the team getting a few replacements for the injured foreigners, Habas now looks better placed to field a side to his liking.

“No excuses for the bad performances. Hopefully we will get a win tomorrow,” Habas said. The coach also pointed out how his team did not get much time to practice on the re-laid natural turf at the Salt Lake Stadium, as they have been travelling a lot.

Habas confirmed that Postiga, who did not play after the first match of ISL where he scored twice to down Channaiyin 3-2, has recovered from the injury and is likely to make it to the squad. Habas’ attacking options are also enhanced by the arrival of Serbian Dejan Lekic and Spaniard midfielder Jorge Alonso Martin for the injured Josemi and Javi Lara respectively.

Taking a cue from their Southern cousin Kerala Blasters FC, who thumped NorthEast United 4-1 at Guwahati to escape from the foot of the table, Chennaiyin FC will be hoping for a turnaround in Kolkata to reignite its campaign.

“We are yet to play to our potential but we are hopeful of a turnaround. If we can manage two or three it can change the situation for us,” Channaiyin’s head coach Marco Materazzi asserted ahead of the match.

The last year’s semifinalists have managed just three wins in the nine rounds to slump to the bottom of the current standings with 10 points. They still have five matches to play and that is keeping Matarazzi hopeful. The visitors will be relying on the chemistry of Colombian Mendoza and Brazilian Elano Blumer, who have been the backbone of the team’s attack so far. They have also added midfielder Gilbert Oliveira as a replacement to injured Dhanpal Ganesh to bolster its midfield.

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