Staring at the possibility of an early exit from the tournament, defending champion ATK will look to cling to the slender chance of survival with a win against the current leader Bengaluru FC at home on Saturday.
The match at the Salt Lake Stadium will be an interesting clash as interim head coach of the host, Ashely Westwood, is the man who had helped the Bengaluru side to two I-League titles in three seasons in his previous assignment as its head coach.
Westwood’s mid-season ascension to the helm of the ATK coaching job, after his predecessor and the Manchester United striker Teddy Sheringham quit the post, has not seen any change in fortune.
ATK lost both its home matches (against Chennaiyin FC and Jamshedpur FC) under him to slide down to the eighth spot with 12 points from as many matches. “It is still a mathematical possibility. If we win six out of six, I am sure we will be close (to securing a play-off berth). Tomorrow we will fire on all cylinders and try to get all three points,” said an optimistic Westwood. The only point cheering up the host is the possibility of its key striker Robbie Keane making a comeback from a brief injury lay-off.
For the visitor, which is currently on the top of the standings with 24 points from 12 outings, a win will further consolidate its position. “We want to keep a clean sheet. I am still trying to find that balance in the team. We still have not won three consecutive games. So, we still need to push ourselves,” Albert Roca, Bengaluru’s Spanish coach said.
Having won its previous two matches, the visiting coach is looking to find the consistency that would improve his team’s title chances in the end. Bengaluru had defeated ATK 1-0 at home (earlier last month) and a win will aid its confidence while also securing a healthy lead over the second-placed Chennaiyin FC.
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