Atletico de Kolkata
Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kochi
10th November, 2015, 1900 IST
In a clash between two bottom strugglers Kerala Blasters FC and Atletico de Kolkata (ATK), a win seems to be quite essential for both the sides to keep their semi final hopes alive.
However, both the sides would also take heart from the fact that they are not too far behind the rest of the pack, and a win might just carry them into the top-four.
While Kerala Blasters, under their new management, have slowly started to turn things around after the arrival of new manager Terry Phelan, ATK have been less than impressive, losing four of their last five matches. Their only victory however, was a 4-1 drubbing of Mumbai City FC, and the defending champions have shown that they can rip any team apart on their day.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Kerala Blasters FC
The biggest tam news for, not just Kerala Blasters FC, but both the team is that a number of key Indian players would be missing from action because of their engagements with the national side, as they prepare for the 2018 World Cup Qualifier against Guam.
Kerala Blasters would be missing the services of Sandesh Jhingan and Cavin Lobo due to international duties, and this could adversely affect their performance. Bringing Terry Phelan in as their new manager seems to have brought a breath of fresh air into the team, as it won for the first time in seven matches, comprehensively beating FC Pune City 2-0.
Under the reign of Peter Taylor, the Blasters were playing a more defensive setup, with five men at the back, but in spite of good performances, they never really gelled with the 5-3-2 formation. However, Trevor Morgan, in his one match in charge, has changed it to a more attacking 4-3-1-2.
This seems to have made a world of difference, as Sanchez Watt, who was previously playing up front, along side Mohammed Rafi, is now being played in the hole behind the two strikers (Rafi and Chris Dagnall). He has been given the license to float around in a free role, and this seems to have made a world of difference.
Probable Starting XI (4-3-1-2): Bywater; Saumik, Ramage, Ramandeep, Bheke; Coimbra, Hossain, Josu; Watt; Dagnall, Rafi.
Atletico de Kolkata
ATK also have the same problem of replacing their key Indian players, as they are engaged in International duty. From ATK’s side, the likes of Arnab Mondal, Augustine Fernandes would be missing from action, and this could further dent a side that seems to have lost its way, after initially starting the season well.
Manager Antonio Habas seems to have exhausted his options, and his squad looks to be lacking the strength to survive two matches in quick succession. This puts some real doubts in the mind of the spectators whether ATK can get a result out of this match, as they had just two days of rest in between.
However, he has to contend with what he has, and the loss of Monda and Fernandes to the national side has not really helped his cause. Nursing a host of injuries, ATK still has not changed much of their setup though, as they have persisted with the 4-2-3-1 formation, even though it is abundantly clear that Iain Hume is not the average out-and-out striker.
Perhaps a more defensive 4-3-3 (with Hume as the false No. 9) could work for ATK, but their manager seems to be reluctant to shift from his current system.
Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Amrinder; Nabi, Nallappan, Arroyo, Franco; Borja, Nato; Doutie, Gavilan, Rafique; Hume.
Kerala Blasters FC 1-0 Atletico de Kolkata
In their current setup, Kerala Blasters FC look like a much more balanced side that ATK, and that could very well add to their home advantage, as Phelan’s side tries to heave themselves out of the bottom of the table. There is just three points between the bottom and the fourth placed side, so neither the Blasters, nor ATK would feel that they are out of the competition yet.
Blast from the Past
Atletico de Kolkata 2-1 Kerala Blasters FC
This was the third match of the season for ATK, as they notched their second win. At this point, ATK looked like the champion side they were last season. However, everything seems to have gne wrong for them after this match, and Habas’ men would like to turn things around with the current fixture against Kerala Blasters FC.
Image Courtesy: ISL Media Team