High on confidence after their wins over bigwigs FC Goa and Bengaluru FC, ATK Mohun Bagan will look to make a hattrick of wins when they take on Chennaiyin FC in the Indian Super League at the GMC Stadium in Bambolim. Last season, erstwhile ATK had won against the same side in the summit clash to clinch a record third title before merging with Indian heavyweights Mohun Bagan.
Antonio Habas’ men will be heading into the match after a good break of 10 days and they would enjoy fresh legs over their opponents from Chennai who looked profligate to settle for a 2-2 draw against struggling SC East Bengal in their last match. A win for ATK Mohun Bagan will take the Kolkata-based club to the top of the points table ahead of the New Year.
To their advantage, ATKMB’s talismanic striker David Williams, who was battling injury issues, opened his account with a peach of a goal against Bengaluru FC in their previous match. Williams’ chemistry upfront with Fijian marksman Roy Krishna last season was the reason behind their success.
Following the Aussie’s first goal, the Mariners fans would hope that they will replicate the same magic this season.
“We are confident because we are improving. We have a good squad but we have to keep on improving. Chennaiyin, for me, is a favourite for the title because they reached the final in the last season. Now, they are playing well. I have seen all their matches and in two or three of them, they played at a very high level. We respect the players and the coach of Chennaiyin,” ATK Mohun Bagan head coach Antonio Lopez Habas said ahead of the game.
On the other hand, The Marina Machans have revamped their side with Csaba Laszlo taking over the reins Owen Coyle left for Jamshedpur and they have also strengthened their attack with Jakub Sylvestr.
Even as Sylvestr plays as a sole striker, he remains active in the midfield with their main playmaker Rafael Crivellaro. Lallianzuala Chhangte and Rahim Ali scored the two goals against SC East Bengal in the last match but at the same time, they missed chances aplenty and failed to bag all three points.
Against a compact ATKMB defence in Tiri, Sandesh Jhingan and Carl McHugh and the likes of Pritam Kotal and Subhasish Bose, it will be interesting to see how Chennaiyin FC win the possession battle. Laszlo believes it will be tough for the team to play a match in three days.
“If you have the next game in three days, it will not be easy but it will be a different game, definitely,” he said ruing their missed chances against SCEB. “It is incredible the number of chances we create. We have to be converting more of these opportunities.” Laszlo will be boosted by the return of right-back Reagan Singh at the back.
The Hungarian tactician will be drilling down the importance of defending better from set-pieces against an organised ATKMB outfit, after having conceded two soft goals from corners against SCEB.
(With PTI Inputs)