Mumbai, November 23: Mumbai City FC are on a three-match winning run and are on course to chart history by winning four ISL matches in a row for the first time ever. Standing between them and the record are former champions ATK as they host them at the Mumbai Football Arena on Saturday.
Jorge Costa’s side haven’t conceded a single goal in their last three outings, a statistic which would certainly concern ATK. Also, of the eight goals they have leaked in, five came in one game (against FC Goa) which goes to show how miserly they have been at the back apart from that particular blip in Goa.
Sometimes, you get lucky and get three points but other times, it is not possible.,” said Costa.
However, they are the only team in the top five who have a negative goal difference which further highlights Costa’s philosophy of ‘results over style of play.’
Interestingly, ATK and Mumbai have scored and shipped in the same number of goals. However, the latter has amassed three points more than the former.
“ATK are a very, very good team. They have very good players and a very good coach with a lot of experience. We will not expect an easy game. It is true that their position in the league is not what they expected at the beginning but as usual, I will take care of the things that I can control and the things that I can control is my players,” stated Costa.
ATK come into the game on the back of a solitary goal win over FC Pune City. They had signed Emiliano Alfaro on loan from Pune to replace the injured Kalu Uche. However, much to their dismay, the 30-year-old Uruguayan striker picked up an injury as well. Steve Coppell’s side have been forced to rope in Australian striker Eli Babalj who could be thrust into the spotlight as ATK look to break down a stubborn Mumbai defence.
“We respect that they are a strong team. They had a hiccup against Goa. We know that they are a very well organised team and that is the challenge for us to come here as the away team and try and break that defence down and it is a challenge we relish,” said Coppell.
Gerson Vieira will continue to operate in the midfield with Andre Bikey and John Johnson forming the centre-back partnership. Komal Thatal’s pace down the right flank will be a cause of concern for Mumbai.
Pronay Halder and Everton Santos have been amongst the better performing players for the Kolkata club this season. Santos, in particular, has had to operate as a midfielder which is not his natural position.
In a clash between two pragmatic coaches, it will be interesting to see who blinks first and goes for the jugular.