A new coach and a new home venue would be providing the incendiary as Atletico de Kolkata looks to push it favourable record against Chennaiyin FC when the titlists renew their ISL rivalry in the third season here at the Rabindra Sarobar Stadium on Sunday.
Atletico Kolkata (ATK), which won the inaugural title, has not forsaken its Spanish connection while bringing home the >former World Cup goalkeeper Jose Molina after Antonio Habas sought fortune with FC Pune City. Defending champion Chennaiyin FC has preferred to retain its faith on the Italian World Cup winning defender Marco Materazzi for the third season in a row. On the head to head count ATK is ahead with three wins while the visitor had won only once. The rest two meetings ended in a draw.
With the tournament yet to offer long term employment to players, especially the international names, change is the order of the day. The modifications in the team rosters spoke more about it as both ATK and Chennaiyin presented altered rosters.
Chennaiyin is the worst sufferer in this having lost the services of its successful attacking combination in Colombian Stiven Mendoza and Brazilian Elano Blumer. Even his trusted compatriot Bruno Pelissari has moved on to Delhi. “I am happy to be here for the third time. Every year we start again from new. For me there is no individual but there is a team,” Materazzi said ahead of his team’s first outing.
Chennaiyin is building its title defence around the Norwegian and former Liverpool defender John Arne Riise. The team also has the likes of Dutch Hans Mulder and Brazilian Raphael Augusto in the midfield while India’s Jeje Lalpekhlua and Italian Davide Succi are the notable names shaping Materazzi attack plans.
“In football it is not about revenge. If we win tomorrow we won’t be playing the final of last season. This is not revenge. This is a new season, a new beginning and we have to focus on this season,” Molina sought to put behind the 3-0 loss in the semifinals last year that ended ATK title hopes (on 2-4 aggregate).
The host is building its hopes around the fit-again Portuguese World Cupper Helder Postiga, who absence owing to injury was one big reason ATK faltered. Iain Hume, the indomitable Canadian, will be pairing with Postiga in the attack. The host has preserved a few more international names looking retain the core of its side.
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