An injury-riddled ATK Mohun Bagan will be looking to rediscover its form as it takes on Kerala Blasters, in an Indian Super League (ISL) at the Salt Lake Stadium here on Saturday.
Having secured only four out of the possible 18 points in its last six outings (a win, two draws and three losses), ATK Mohun Bagan’s approach to the knock-out stage suddenly seems to have gone rudderless.
Injuries to its key foreigners appear to be the bane of ATKMB, which has not been able to find appropriate names from the bench seeing its performance going into a tailspin. ATKMB is currently placed fifth with 28 points from 18 matches and will continue to fall down the rungs if it fails to pick up enough points in its remaining two matches.
With only two spots remaining vacant in the six-team knock-out stage, the host does not appear to have enough time to recover.
“This team needs to show character and it is a strong team. The recent results have been disappointing, but difficult situations provide the best moments to work on a plan for the future,” said ATKMB head coach Juan Ferrando.
“We have to work together, follow the plan and forget about the previous results. That is what is best for the team. Everyone at the club wants to win the last two matches,” he added.
Ferrando had to do without the likes of Frenchman Hugo Boumous and India forward Ashique Kuruniyan in the past two matches. There is a possibility that the Irish midfielder Carl McHugh may have to sit out with an injury thereby increasing the challenge for Ferrando.
Unlike the host, Kerala Blasters has already ensured qualification to the knock-out stage after Chennaiyin FC beat FC Goa on Thursday.
With 31 points from 18 matches, the third-placed Blasters will be looking to cement its position adding more points to its existing tally. The Yellow Army will also be looking at the opportunity to avenge the defeat it suffered against the same opposition in the first phase of the tournament.
Moreover, it will be a chance for the Blasters to find its first win against ATKMB having lost four and drawn once in the five meetings so far.
“Even last year we qualified for the playoffs in the last game or the game before that so we are used to the pressure. Of course, the circumstances yesterday (Chennaiyin FC’s win over FC Goa) helped us to qualify for the playoffs but we still have two more games where we want to be strong and show that we are capable of being in the playoffs,” Kerala Blasters coach Ivan Vukomanovic said about his team’s upcoming match.
The Blasters will be without their suspended Uruguayan forward Adrian Luna in the match against ATK Mohun Bagan.
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