Odisha FC plays its first home game when they square-off against high flying ATK as Indian Super League resumes after a short break here on Sunday.
Josep Gombau’s side has amassed four points from as many fixtures and have scored and conceded six goals so far. The Spanish coach had plenty of time during the international break to work with his squad, given that only one player, Vinit Rai, had to report for national duty.
After suffering back-to-back defeats in its opening two games, it came back strongly to pick an important win in Mumbai. However, it followed it up with a draw in Kerala before the international break.
“We were playing good football in the first three games. The last game was not that good (against Kerala). We did well in the first two matches, but did not get the result. That is football,” said Gombau.
“Tomorrow is an important game. ATK are a very good team and are at the top of the table. They have good footballers in their squad. But we are ready to compete and have the mentality to get all three points,” he added.
Table-topper ATK will be hard-pressed to ensure it does not lose the momentum gained after three consecutive wins before the break. Roy Krishna and David Williams have set the league on fire with their combination upfront, having scored six goals between them.
Odisha’s defence will have to be at its best to blunt ATK’s talented forwards. However, the Kolkata-based side will be without the services of midfielder Pronay Halder who suffered a shoulder injury in India’s away game against Oman earlier this week.
ATK has the firepower to play as per the situation demands. For example, in its away game against Chennaiyin FC, it preferred to hit on the counter, instead of taking the game to the opponent. While in its home matches, it has always dictated terms and has played on the front foot.
“We have a style of football. Our philosophy is that you respect the opponent and play the 90 minutes. We always focus on the next three points. You can’t win every match. But we focus from match-to-match. We have to run and not jump,” said coach Antonio Habas.
The wily Spaniard, who is no stranger to the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex having coached FC Pune City in 2016, will look to mastermind a fourth win on the bounce for ATK while his compatriot will be busy trying to arrest the visiting side’s momentum.