ISL 2020-21 Preview: In-form ATK Mohun Bagan eyes third win on the trot

Newcomer ATK Mohun Bagan has gotten off to a perfect start in the Indian Super League (ISL 2020-21 season) with two consecutive victories.

Antonio Habas (left) is respectful of Stuart Baxter, whom he knows since the two were coaching different sides in the South Africa Premier Soccer League in the early part of the decade.   -  SPORTZPICS/ISL

ATK Mohun Bagan will be looking to utilise the confidence of winning two successive matches at the start when it takes on Odisha FC at the Fatorda Stadium on Thursday.

The ATK Mohun Bagan side, which preserves a big majority of the squad that lifted the ISL crown under coach Antonio Lopez Habas last season, seemed to have brought forward the cohesiveness and form that helped it triumph. This was evident in the way it got the better of Kerala Blasters in the first match and then went on to win the battle of nerves easily against traditional rival East Bengal. A third straight win will see ATK MB rising to the top again.

ALSO READ|ISL soldiers on in a year of uncertainties

In contrast, Odisha FC is winless and is currently situated at the bottom half of the standings with just one point from two games. Odisha FC came from behind to secure its first point of the campaign against Jamshedpur FC but Stuart Baxter’s side needs to tidy up its defence which has been vulnerable at times.

Roy Krishna, the top scorer for ATK last season, struck from the start and has already scored once in both the outings of the side. The Kolkata giant, which has got all its three goals so far from open play, will once again be looking to use its robust offensive against its new opponent. Aware of the might of his opponent, Baxter spoke about keeping things tight at the back.

ALSO READ| ISL 2020-21: Who are Odisha FC's foreign players?

“You respect them because they have good and experienced players. While throwing players forward, we have to be aware of the fact they get into the game quickly when we are spread out. We have to make sure we are aware of that and make it difficult for them. More than that, it's going to be up to the players on the day to make sure we take away the spaces they want and we defend well one-versus-one,” Baxter said. Odisha FC will have to be sharp at the front too as it is against a side that has kept clean sheets in both its outings.

ATK Mohun Bagan has some injury problems with Michael Soosairaj virtually out of the tournament and Spanish attacking-midfielder Edu Garcia also nursing an injury. “Edu Garcia has some injury problems and hopefully he will recover in three-four days. We are confident as a professional squad and we have a plan and will go to the field with that,” said Habas before the match.

The ATK Mohun Bagan coach is also respectful of Baxter, whom he knows since the two were coaching different sides in the South Africa Premier Soccer League in the early part of the decade. “I know him since my South Africa days. He is a coach with a fantastic CV and good experience and I am sure Odisha FC will grow as a team under him. I respect him and I am sure that he has the same feelings for me,” Habas said.

ALSO READ| ISL 2020-21: Who are ATK Mohun Bagan's foreign players?

The ATK MB head coach is quite aware of the ability of the Odisha FC forward Marcelinho, who has rich experience of playing in the ISL. “Marcelinho is one of the best attackers in ISL. The last year may not have been good for him but we need to have a proper plan in place for him. He is very good in set-piece situations and is also very good as a play-maker,” Habas said.


ATK MOHUN BAGAN FC: Arindam Bhattacharja, Dheeraj Singh, Arsh Shaikh, Aryan Niraj Lamba, Avilash Paul, Tiri, Sandesh Jhingan, Prabir Das, Pritam Kotal, Subhasish Bose, Sumit Rathi, Boris Singh Thangjam, Edu Garcia, Javier Hernandez, Carl McHugh, Glan Martins, Michael Soosairaj, Jayesh Rane, Pronay Halder, Bradden Inman, Michael Regin, Sahil Sheikh, Ningombam Engson Singh, Md. Fardin Ali Molla, Roy Krishna, David Williams, Manvir Singh

ODISHA FC: Kamaljit Singh, Ravi Kumar, Arshdeep Singh, Ankit Bhuyan, Steven Taylor, Jacob Tratt, Shubham Sarangi, Gaurav Bora, Hendry Antonay, Kamalpreet Singh, George D'Souza, Mohammad Dhot, Saurabh Meher, Cole Alexander, Nandhakumar Sekar, Paul Ramfangzauva, Samuel Lalmuanpuia, Vinit Rai, Thoiba Singh, Isak Vanlalruatfela, Jerry Mawihmingthana, Boaringdao Bodo, Lahrezuala Sailung, Marcelo Pereira, Manuel Onwu, Daniel Lalhlimpuia, Diego Mauricio, Laishram Singh.


Match Facts:

Time: 7:30pm

Venue: Fatorda Stadium