Two-time Indian Super League champions ATK (formerly Atletico de Kolkata) seek their first points for Indian Super League 2019-20 as they host debutants Hyderabad FC today (Friday).
The Kolkata-based ATK will look to regroup after having lost their season opener to hosts Kerala FC at Kochi.
Hyderabad FC will be keen to start their Indian Super League campaign on a promising note. The team to replace defunct Pune City FC will be making their ISL debut at the Salt Lake stadium against the fancied hosts.
Despite a sixth minute lead by Carl McHugh, ATK were left to rue some good opportunities as Kerala Blasters restored parity by converting a spot kick in the 30th minute and sealed the issue before half-time in the ISL opener in Kochi on Sunday, adds PTI.
The Kolkata franchise were also ‘unlucky’ with their appeals for penalties being turned down during the match and coach Antonio Lopez Habas will look for a fresh start for his team.
Former Spanish international goalkeeper Jose Molina took charge in the third season and the Kolkata franchise put up a dominant display to win their second title — a record they jointly hold with Chennaiyin FC in the five-year-old history of the league.
But after the severed partnership with Atletico Madrid — who looked after the technical affairs but did not invest anything in the club, ATK’s performance nosedived, finishing ninth and sixth in the last two seasons.
To revive their fortunes, the Sanjiv Goenka-owned side finally decided to get back Habas and the Spaniard will be keen to return to winning ways.
Soosairaj was one of most influential players for Jamshedpur last year, netting four goals for them but the leftwinger looked tentative against Kerala with Jayesh Rane in the central midfield.
“The duty to the team is like that. I think Soosairaj has a fantastic future but he needs to adapt to us tactically. Maybe one day he’ll play as a full-back and other day he’ll be a winger. He has the condition for playing in many sectors of the pitch,” Habas said of Soosairj on the eve of the match.
Most of the players from the now-defunct Pune FC, who were disbanded at the end of last season following financial troubles, have been retained by the Hyderabad side.
Englishman Phil Brown, who joined Pune last season in January and guided the club to a seventh-place finish, will continue to guide Hyderabad as they play their first match.
Representing the historical city of Hyderabad, the franchise have brought in several key foreigners, including Nestor Gordillo, Deyvison Rogerio da Silva and Giles Barnes.
The domestic recruits include Gani Nigam, Sahil Tavora and Laldanmawia Ralte while FC Goa’s Laxmikant Kattimani has replaced Vishal Kaith.
The defence also looks sturdy with high-profile signings of Matthew Kilgallon and Rafa Lopez Gomes adding a bit of their experience from the European top tiers.
Youngsters Deependra Negi, Ashish Rai and Tarif Akhand are also part of the main squad.
Under Habas, then Atletico de Kolkata won the inaugural title in 2014 and made the last-four the following year.
ATK: Arindam Bhattacharja (GK), Pritam Kotal, Carl McHugh, Agustin Iniguez, Prabir Das, Pronay Halder, Jayesh Rane, Edu Garcia, Michael Soosairaj, David Williams, Roy Krishna
Hyderabad FC: Kamaljit Singh (GK), Matthew Kilgallon, Gurtej Singh, Rafael Gomez, Sahil Panwar, Adil Khan, Marko Stankovic, Giles Barnes, Bobo, Marcelo Pereira, Robin Singh
The match at the Salt Lake Stadium will start at 7:30 pm. Fans can catch all the action LIVE on Star Sports 2, Star Sports 2 HD, Star Sports 1 Hindi, Star Sports 1 Hindi HD, Star Sports 1 Tamil, Star Sports 1 Telugu, Star Sports 1 Kannada, Star Sports 1 Bangla. A 30-minute pre-show will precede the LIVE broadcast.
The action will also be streamed on Star’s OTT platform Hotstar and JioTV