ISL 2019-20: Hyderabad FC meets ATK in league debut

Hyderabad FC will be against the hosts, who will be desperate for a win after the opening day reverse at the hands of Kerala Blasters FC on Sunday.

ATK right-back Prabir Das will play an instrumental role at the back for the Kolkata-based club against Hyderabad FC.   -  Special Arrangement

The two-time champion ATK will face a big challenge when the newly formed Hyderabad FC comes calling it at home for its Indian Super League debut at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday. Having lost its first outing 1-2 while visiting Kerala Blasters on Sunday, ATK coach Antiono Habas knows the importance of picking up points in the season's first home game. The Spaniard, who has been recalled to the side after a break of three seasons, will be looking to recall the favourable home record he had enjoyed in his previous stint with the team.

Habas said his team is yet to settle down to the balance he is looking to bring in the side. “I think we have great fitness to play well in the first 40 minutes. That maybe happening because we need more balance in the team. We need to improve with the players. We have seven new players in the team and it is very difficult to create the perfect balance with a new side.” Habas said

Star striker Roy Krishna, who had a couple of good chances to open his ISL account in Kochi, and Javi Hernandez will be key for ATK in attack while the likes of Michael Soosairaj will be expected to give them good support.

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For Hyderabad FC coach Phil Brown, the change in nomenclature, from FC Pune City, and the address of his side has doubled its task of establishing its identity in the League. Hyderabad enjoys an important place in the history of Indian football and the Englishman is aware of the new responsibility.

Hyderabad have also some good attacking options in its ranks in Jamaican forward Giles Barnes and Brazilian attacker Bobo. However, Spanish midfielder Nestor Gordillo will not be available until late December, owing to a ban handed to him by the All India Football Federation (AIFF).

 “When you are a new franchise going into a new league, I think we have a responsibility to play the right kind of football to enhance ISL’s brand. We have no identity yet and we are striving to get one. We have to win over the hearts and bring the excitement to fill the stadiums. We have a big part to play this season and hopefully that starts tomorrow,” Brown said ahead of his team’s ISL debut.

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