ATK eye top spot while NorthEast seek first win since November
Two-time Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL) champions, ATK FC will have the summit of the table in their crosshairs when they welcome NorthEast United FC at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Monday. Antonio Lopez Habas’ side return to action after more than a week’s break and will approach the game with intent, knowing that a win would get them back to the top of the table. The Highlanders, on the other hand, are now winless in their last seven in this season, with their last victory of the competition coming in early November, 2019. Needless to say, Robert Jarni’s charges will look for a course correction, starting with a win over their eastern rivals.
The Kolkata-based club earned a massive away win at home against FC Goa in their last match. The reaction was exactly what the club needed after suffering disappointment in the Kerala fixture in the tie prior to that. Their record at home will give them further confidence considering they’ve picked up 13 points from six home matches so far.
Striker Roy Krishna will be equally keen to take the pitch against the Highlanders, given he scored a brace in the meeting between the two earlier in the season. While he has hasn’t found the back of the net for over a month, Krishna’s influence on ATK’s side has hardly diminished, with the forward providing three assists and creating plenty of chances in the last four matches.
With a tight three-way race between ATK, Bengaluru FC and FC Goa ensuing at the top of the Hero ISL 2019-20 table currently, David Williams’ injury has come at the wrong time for ATK, with the Australian ace missing ATK’s last few matches. Thankfully for Habas, however, the Indian contingent has seriously stepped up, thereby helping to ease some of the burden off Krishna while operating sans Williams. Their last four goals have all been scored by Indians, with ATK only behind Mumbai City FC in terms of having the highest number of unique Indian goal scorers in the competition this season. It will be interesting to see if Williams is deemed fit for the tie and if yes, whether Habas decides to throw him into the fray from the start.
Despite beginning the season on a good note, the Highlanders find themselves second from bottom with just 11 points from as many matches. They come into the ATK tie on the back of consecutive defeats and having scored just three goals away from home so far – the lowest tally in the division. The Highlanders’ away record is also concerning, with the club collecting just six points from as many matches on their travels.
The failure to score early in games has also affected their ability to clinch three points, as they’ve scored a league-low three goals in the first half of games so far this season.
The absence of striker Asamoah Gyan hasn’t helped the club either and has left them short in the striking department. Irish forward Andrew Keogh has been brought in, but the 33-year-old will take time to acclimatize himself with NorthEast’s style and the intensity of the Hero ISL. Swedish midfielder Simon Lundevall has also been roped in to help the team end their slump and make a last-ditch push for the top four. Having arrived in India just a few days back, the former Swedish international may have a part to play against ATK, but most likely will start from the bench.
In the meantime, Jarni will be hoping for not just much better output, but increased work rate from the likes of Redeem Tlang and Martin Chaves. ATK are especially dangerous with their wing play, which will require Tlang and Chaves to fill in and help out the fullbacks.
ATK FC: Arindam Bhattacharja (GK), Sumit Rathi, Agustin Iniguez, Victor Mongil, Pritam Kotal, Jayesh Rane, Javier Hernandez, Prabir Das, Michael Soosairaj, Jobby Justin, Roy Krishna
NorthEast United FC: Subhasish Roy (GK), Reagan Singh, Heerings Kai, Mislav Komorski, Rakesh Pradhan, Lalengmawia, Redeem Tlang, Jose Leudo, Federico Gallego, Martin Chaves, Andrew Keogh
Did you know?
- ATK have the second-best record at home in terms of points (13 points from possible 18).
- NorthEast have scored just 3 goals away from home (lowest in the league).
- NorthEast have scored just 3 goals in the first half (lowest in the league).
Live Broadcast Schedule:
Hero ISL 2019-20 Match 68: ATK FC vs NorthEast United FC
Date: January 27 (Monday)
Time: 7:30 PM onwards
Channels: Star Sports Network
Streaming: Hotstar and Jio TV