ATK look to keep pace with top pack
Kolkata, January 26: In a League title race that is going down to the wire, ATK cannot afford any slip-ups as they face a struggling NorthEast United FC in a Hero Indian Super League encounter at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Monday.
ATK are placed third on the table, three points behind FC Goa and a point shy of Bengaluru FC. They are fresh off a win against leaders FC Goa while NorthEast United, placed ninth on the table, are on a seven-match winless run.
With a strong record at home this time around (13 points taken from a possible 18), ATK will consider themselves favourites to take all three points against NorthEast. When you filter in the fact that NorthEast United have scored just three goals away from home, the task on their hands seems unenviable.
Roy Krishna, who has scored eight goals so far, is ATK’s biggest threat up front. His directness and ability to bring teammates into play has served Antonio Habas’ side well. However, he has not scored in the last four matches, despite providing assists to his teammates. He will be looking to put an end to that statistic against the team he has already scored a brace against.
“For us, it can be a tricky match because the situation NorthEast is in not really how they play. They play good football, they have signed two players. They have played two matches less than the other teams. It is very difficult, they are a tough opponent. We have to be tough and prepared for this match,” said Habas.
Breaching the backline will be a tough ask for NorthEast United who are in terrible form. Their last victory came in early November while they lost two and drew one of their previous three away games.
Anything less than a win will deal a huge blow to NorthEast’s hopes of reaching the play-offs and Robert Jarni needs his team to find a spark that will reinvigorate their campaign.
“In one month, we have seven games. We are aware of the situation. I am always optimistic to fight for every little hope we have. We will do everything we can to win the match and in what way, you will see,” said Jarni.
They have struggled to score away from home and will hope that new signing Andy Keogh might just turn their fortunes in front of goal around. Keogh, a highly-experienced striker who has played in the Premier League, needs to fill the injured Asamoah Gyan’s big shoes.
They have also signed midfielder Simon Lundevall, although he is not expected to be ready for Monday.
“For Andy (Keogh) you know that he is a very good player and we are very satisfied with him. Simon (Lundevall) came just a couple of days ago and he has still not adapted to the weather here. We will see if he adapts by the next match,” said Jarni.
The likes of Federico Gallego and Martin Chaves need to start delivering on a consistent basis and make sure Keogh gets ample service against a miserly defence.