ISL 2018-19: Mumbai City meets resolute ATK on playoff path

Host ATK is virtually out of the race for playoffs after just five wins in 16 outings.

Mumbai City FC players train ahead of the ATK match.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Mumbai City FC has the big challenge of playing its last two league matches of the ISL as a visitor and pick up the requisite points for the playoffs. It takes on two-time champion ATK in the first of the two meetings, here at the Salt Lake Stadium on Friday. With ATK virtually out of the race after only five wins in the 16 matches it played so far, the visitor will be appearing more motivated as it tries to pick up a win and realise its playoff goal. Mumbai City’s other opponent will be derby rival FC Pune City, which the former would like to avoid.

For ATK, it is turning out to be second successive season of disappointment after having dominated the tournament in the first three seasons. The host extinguished almost all hopes of qualifying for playoffs after picking just one point in the last two matches (drawing 2-2 against Pune and losing 3-0 against Goa). With 21 points in its kitty, the currently sixth-placed ATK needs too many things to go in its favour to realise a top-four spot. In comparison, Mumbai City is much better-placed with 27 points from 16 matches and is just a win away from securing a place in the playoffs.

“It is very difficult to qualify but it is possible. We obviously cling on to that hope. If we were to win it, we would be within reach of Mumbai. This will also give a better head to head against Mumbai if we win. You never know what would happen in football,” the ATK coach Steve Coppell tried to sound optimistic.

Mumbai City’s Portuguese coach Jorge Costa sounded concerned about his team’s recent poor form. “We did not play the last three games like we wanted to. We had injuries and suspensions plaguing our form and we made a lot of mistakes. But I still believe in this team and hope to return to our old form,” said Costa ahead of the match.