Atletico de Kolkata will look to cement their place at the top of the Indian Super League standings with a victory over Mumbai City FC, in Kolkata on Friday.
The defending champions, who were the first team to qualify for the semis, lead the ISL table with 23 points from 13 matches, and only a point separates ATK and third placed Delhi Dynamos. However, a victory over eighth-placed Mumbai City FC will confirm the top spot for the side from Kolkata.
The torrential rains in Chennai had raised doubts about the match after Mumbai players were stuck in the southern city, but the game was given the green signal yesterday after the players made their way to the Tirupati Airport. The Mumbai players were to reach Kolkata on Thursday but failed to do that as the Chennai airport had been closed down due to the flood.
The defending champions are on a three-match winning streak and will start as favourites against Mumbai City FC, who will be extremely tired from their journey across India.
ATK coach Antonio Lopez Habas though isna t likely to take the match lightly, as hea ll look to seal the advantage of playing the second leg of the semi final at home.
a Ia m very happy with us qualifying for the semis. I think the confident mentality of the team has worked. In football, you lose some day, you win some day. Football has a lot to do with your mental state, you have to stay positive,a said coach Antonio Lopez Habas.
Mumbai City FC, on the other hand, will look to end their season with bang and Nicolas Anelka will hope that the adrenaline of the players will help the players overcome the fatigue of their lengthy travel.
The Frenchman also drew comparison to last season as Mumbai City FC blew their bright start with a seven match winless streak and yet to win an away fixture in two seasons.
a If you look at the beginning of the season, it was exactly like last season. We started winning and then later on we couldna t hold on to that streak. I dona t know why but it was exactly the same this year. The players tried their best but we couldna t help it,a said Anelka, the marquee player-manager of Mumbai City.
Image Courtesy: ISL Media