The second round of Indian Super league will kick-start on Thursday (October 4) when two-time champion ATK go up against NorthEast United in the Eastern derby at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan (Salt Lake Stadium) in Kolkata.
ATK had a disappointing defeat in their opening game against Kerala Blasters FC, despite being a stronger team at least on paper. The new-look ATK side showed signs of a lack of cohesion which should have been addressed by the new head coach, Steve Coppel.
Meanwhile, NorthEast United had a decent start against FC Goa netting two goals while the shaky defence also conceded two goals ending the match in 2-2 draw. Goalkeeper TP Rehenesh looked nervy in between the sticks and the backline was disorganized in the Highlander squad.
Face to Face
Both sides have played 8 matches against each other so far in the Indian Super League. ATK has command with 5 wins while NorthEast United managed to win only twice and one match result was a draw. ATK also scored 8 goals against NorthEast United while the Highlanders returned only 4.
Regaining confidence is the key to the Kolkata based squad after a poor start. It needs to be noted that Coppell's previous teams in the ISL took some time to shape and the process is also expected with the ATK. The team is still forming. I hope we gel quickly but it will take time. Therefore, I once again say that teams with continuity have an advantage in ISL," the gaffer said.
We just need to control the ball more which will give us more potential to go forward and attack," he added.
Nigerian forward Kalu Uche is expected to start for ATK in place of Everton Santos. His presence up front alongside Manuel Lanzarote and Balwant Singh could prove vital for NorthEast United clash. Pronay Halder and El Maimouni Noussair will continue in the mid-field while hile John Johnson and Gerson Vieira expected to reprise the role as the centre back with improved communication.
North East United
NorthEast United made some unnecessary mistakes at the back in the first game. Eelco Schattorie should have worked on the defence and if they can tighten their grip and ensure minimal cracks in defence, ATK could have a hard time.
Bartholomew Ogbeche, the Nigerian forward was a constant threat against FC Goa and continue to add firepower at front. Nikhil Kadam and Rowllin Borges were impressive in midfield and the duo is expected to play against ATK as well.
Croatian duo at the centre back Mato Grgic and Mislav Komorski seem to have already developed a good understanding amongst themselves and will be responsible for defence in the second game as well. TP Rehenesh should step up his game to prevent ATK attackers from goal.
Probable starting 11
ATK: Arindam Bhattacharya (GK), Sena Ralte, John Johnson, Gerson Vieira, Aiborlang Khongjee, Pronay Halder, El Maimouni Noussair, Balwant Singh, Manuel Lanzarote (C), Jayesh Rane, Kalu Uche
NorthEast United: TP Rehenesh, Mato Grgic, Mislav Komorski, Keegan Pereira, Reagan Singh, Rowllin Borges, Nikhil Kadam, Federico Gallego, Redeem Tlang, Bartholomew Ogbeche (C)
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