Can Odisha stop high-flying ATK?
Pune, November 23: Odisha FC play their first home game when they square-off against high flying ATK at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex here on Sunday.
Josep Gombau’s side have 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 their opening two games, they came back strongly to pick an important win in Mumbai. However, they followed it up with a draw in Kerala.
“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. This is football. 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,” said Gombau.
Table-toppers ATK will be hard-pressed to ensure they do 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 camaraderie upfront, having scored six goals between them.
Odisha’s defence will have to be at their very 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 have the firepower to play a game as per the situation demands. For example, in their away game against Chennaiyin FC, they preferred to hit on the counter, instead of taking the game to the opponent. While in their home matches, they have always dictated terms and have 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 will look to mastermind a fourth win on the bounce for ATK while his compatriot will be busy trying to arrest ATK’s momentum.