Kolkata, Struggling ATK and defending champions Chennaiyin FC will look to get their house in order when the two sides clash in an Indian Super League (ISL) tie at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Friday.
ATK, placed sixth on the points table, have won just one of their four fixtures so far while Chennaiyin, languishing at the ninth spot, have got just one point after playing four games.
ATK were fortunate to eke out a 1-1 draw in their last match against Jamshedpur FC.
Jamshedpur dominated the game for larger parts and their coach Cesar Ferrando rued the fact that they did not come out winners.
ATK head coach Steve Coppell admitted that he was happy to come away with a draw, given the quality of the opposition.
“After the first half, I was really pleased to go into the break at 1-1. They got into some really good positions and we seemed to be chasing the ball. So, when Lanzarote scored, it gave us an opportunity to tinker a bit with the team. Jamshedpur are a good side and they have got some really good players, so we are happy to come away with the point,” he said.
The Englishman also provided an update on Kalu Uche, who was surprisingly left out of the squad.
“We trained in the morning and he started feeling his hamstring. If tonight was a cup final, he probably would have played. But in view of the fact that we have got three games in ten days, I thought it would be best for him not to start because then he might put himself out for quite a long time,” he said.
“We missed him, but the others worked very hard and I can’t question the commitment of the players.”
For Chennaiyin, their last game was against Delhi Dynamos where both sides played out a drab 0-0 draw.
Chennaiyin got their first point of the season but their head coach John Gregory was clearly disappointed not to have claimed all three.
“I think we should’ve won the game quite comfortably. If we would’ve won 3-0, I don’t think Delhi could’ve complained about it. We had many goal-scoring opportunities which we worked to create, but we didn’t take the chances.
“We have problems on the other end of the pitch but tonight we were very solid defensively. The second half was just one-way traffic, we just dominated the second half. The Delhi goalkeeper won the man of the match and he kept Delhi in the match,” he said.
Asked to elaborate on his team’s defensive display against Delhi having conceded eight goals in their first three games, the Englishman said: “I was delighted we got a clean sheet from the game. Clean sheets are always welcome at any given stage and the coaches love them, fans probably don’t love them, especially 0-0 games.”
“But, we are delighted to keep a clean sheet. As you said, in the last two games we conceded eight goals which is not like us. Our team was built on a solid defence last year, we were really hard to play against. We were really strong defensively, we didn’t give goals easily,” he added.
“If anyone scored a goal against us they had to work really hard and it had to be something special. We had eight clean sheets and I hope we get that this time too. We need 29 points to get in the play-offs and I hope we do it.”