Kolkata, October 25: Defending champions Chennaiyin FC and former champions ATK will have a single-minded pursuit of a win as they face each other in a Hero Indian Super League clash at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan in Kolkata on Friday.
A win is of paramount importance for both teams given the way the ISL table is shaping up. ATK have four points from four games in their kitty while Chennaiyin FC have only a point to show for their efforts.
After two losses in a row at home, ATK put in solid shifts away to defeat Delhi Dynamos and then hold Jamshedpur FC. But given that all the five teams above Steve Coppell’s side have played a game less, nothing less than three points would do for them.
“A lot of teams are on the same level. But some have elevated themselves. We want to be at the elite level. For that, we need to win at home. Good teams win at home. We have to collect points in front of our home fans and in front of the home ground,” said Coppell.
Chennaiyin FC are also badly in need of three points. They are yet to notch a win this season but have snapped a three-game losing streak after a goalless draw with Delhi Dynamos.
Coach John Gregory will be a hopeful man after that result given that his team finally kept a clean sheet, although against a toothless Delhi attack. But anything other than a win will see the defending champions fall well behind in the race for the play-off spots.
“We’ve played four matches and there are some new faces in the team. They are taking some time to settle down. Day-by-day, the performance level is improving. We’re working on our mistakes but I think we’re getting better,” said Chennaiyin FC assistant coach Sabir Pasha who filled in for unwell head coach John Gregory.
The champions have been leaky in defence so far but the pair of Inigo Calderon and Eli Sabia looked confident against Dynamos. However, their finishing left a lot to be desired in Delhi. Considering the kind of chances Carlos Salom spurned, Gregory could bring back last year’s top scorer Jeje Lalpekhlua into the starting XI.
“ATK is always strong. No doubt they have lost two matches at home. But they will come stronger tomorrow. They can’t be taken lightly. They play really hard and put the opponent under pressure,” said Pasha.
Both coaches, Coppell and Gregory, lay a lot of emphasis on defensive solidity and like to counter at pace. The battle of the British coaches certainly promises a treat.