Chennaiyin FC v ATK: Must-win match for ISL champions

Chennaiyin, the defending champion, occupies sixth spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) table with 13 points while the visitor, winner of the inaugural edition, sits one place above with 14. The corresponding fixture in Kolkata ended in a 2-2 draw but a stalemate this time round might hurt both sides.

Chennaiyin's Mehrajuddin Wadoo and Raphael Augusto during the team's practice session.   -  R. Ragu

Defending champion Chennaiyin FC hosts Atletico de Kolkata in a game where both teams need maximum points to maintain their push for a semi-final spot.

Chennaiyin occupies sixth spot in the Indian Super League (ISL) table with 13 points while the visitor sits one place above with 14. The corresponding fixture in Kolkata ended in a 2-2 draw but a stalemate this time round might hurt both sides.

Despite there being just one point separating the two teams, ATK coach Jose Molina does not believe it is a straight shootout between them for the fourth and final semi-final spot.

“All the teams still have a chance of making it to the playoffs so it is not just between Chennaiyin and us,” he said. “No team will be taking anything for granted because it is so close, anything can still happen.”

ATK has suffered numerous lapses in defence this season but Molina is not overly concerned.

“Everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes the opposition takes advantage, sometimes they don’t. That is football. We try to avoid these mistakes in every game and it will be the same against Chennaiyin FC,” said the coach.

Chennaiyin FC has never beaten Atletico de Kolkata in a league match — its only win coming in the knockout stages last season. But Molina played down the importance of that impressive head-to-head record.

“I don’t live in the past, I live in the present. Yes, we have a good record against them but this is a new game. We will have to be at our best to beat them.”

South African midfielder Sameehg Doutie missed the last game through injury and has not recovered yet. Marquee player Helder Postiga is likely to continue up front despite his struggles in front of goal.

After a winless run of five games, Chennaiyin FC beat FC Pune City to ease the pressure on coach Marco Materazzi and put itself back in contention for a place in the top four.

Forward Maurizio Peluso is the only injury concern for the home side as it looks to overturn its miserable record against the champion of the inaugural ISL edition.