ISL: ATK, Jamshedpur battle for play-off spot (Preview)

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Kolkata, Feb 2 (IANS) The battle for a berth in the top four intensifies in the business end of the Indian Super League (ISL) and nowhere will be it more intense than at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan here on Sunday when ATK and Jamshedpur FC square off.

The teams know that a win is vital in this fixture.

While Jamshedpur are currently fifth in the table with 20 points, ATK are only three points behind.

ATK slumped to a disappointing 1-1 result in their previous game against Kerala Blasters when they conceded a late equaliser, despite taking the lead in the 85th minute through new recruit Edu Garcia.

Steve Coppell’s side will look towards the former Bengaluru FC man to fire against Jamshedpur.

ATK will also count on Manuel Lanzarote to link up with Garcia and add more guile and creativity to their attack. They badly need it given that they have scored just 11 goals so far, the worst among all ISL teams.

“Good players play together. I don’t really wish to put them in their straitjackets. It’s come to the part of the season where you want to give your match winners the freedom to win the match if possible.”

“It’s an occasion where you give them the lead and say play,” coach Steve Coppell said about the Lanzarote-Garcia combination.

Kalu Uche looked a bit sluggish on his return from injury and Coppell will hope for a bit more from the Nigerian striker as the Kolkata-based team mount a challenge for the top-four spot.

Jamshedpur FC will definitely rue the fact that they have had eight draws this season. They are in desperate need for points to make the cut.

“Yes, we have drawn a lot of matches. I think we played very well in many matches but that was not enough to win. We need more quality in the opponent box. We are a good team, but if you want to score, you need more quality in the final third.”

“We need to improve our attack. But it’s football, you can win, draw or lose. Tomorrow if we draw, we need to win the next two matches against Mumbai and Pune. Tomorrow’s draw is only good for the top four teams,” said Cesar Ferrando.

Marquee signing Tim Cahill is injured and has flown out to Manchester. Carlos Calvo is suspended. It has further complicated the team selection, especially in attack department, for coach Cesar Ferrando.

It isn’t just their attack that has been their Achilles heel. Despite having the joint second best defensive record in the league, they have leaked goals at crucial junctures.

Subrata Paul looked in good form in the last game and he will be keen to continue in the same vein in Kolkata as Jamshedpur look to get back to winning ways.



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