A new-look Atletico Kolkata (ATK) would be looking for its first win under a new coach and playing ideology when the defending champion takes on FC Pune City in the first match of Sunday’s ISL double-header here at the Salt Lake Stadium. This is the first match of the domestic season happening in the country’s biggest football amphitheatre,
which hosted the final of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup barely 28 days ago.
For ATK coach Teddy Sheringham, the incentive will be playing in front of a huge home crowd. With the stadium hosting capacity crowds from the quarterfinal onwards in the U-17 world Cup, Sheringham is aware of the impact it could create on the motivation of his players. “We are here to impress our fans. Thousands will turn up for the game and we will want to put up a good show,” Sheringham said in the pre-match news conference.
Starting its campaign with a goalless draw against its final opponent of the previous season, Kerala Blasters FC, ATK will look to make the maximum out of the home support. “If we win at home, that will make the away matches much easier for us," Sheringham said.
The absence of its star striker Robbie Keane , struck down by Achilles problem, is another big issue for the host. The ATK coach hoped the Irish striker will return in a couple of weeks. Sheringham said his other strikers like Njazi Kuqi and Robin Singh have done well to fill up the vacuum left by Keane’s absence.
FC Pune City, which suffered a disappointing 2-3 loss against Delhi Dynamos at home in its previous outing, is looking for consolidation. “We will do everything to win here. When you play in front of a big crowd, it is a motivation for both the sides,” said Pune’s Serbian coach Ranko Popovic.
Saying that a team wins when its players make less mistakes, Povovic hoped his boys will be able to get the tactics right this time. “The mistakes are individual and not tactical. These things happen and we always try to get back as a team,” he said.
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