ISL: Chennaiyin’s poor form not an advantage for us, says ATK coach

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Kolkata, Oct 25 (IANS) Despite Chennaiyin FC not playing their best football in this season’s Indian Super League (ISL), ATK coach Steve Coppell on Thursday refused to take them lightly and said the defending champions looked good in their last game and they are desperate to log three points too.

ATK, placed sixth on the points table, have won just one of their four fixtures so far while Chennaiyin, languishing at the ninth spot, have got just one point after playing four games.

In their last game against Delhi Dynamos, Chennaiyin wasted a handful of chances, bagging their first point of the season.

Head coach John Gregory, who did not attend the pre-match media interaction due to a sore throat, was disappointed not to have claimed all three in the last game.

“I think in their most recent game they were really good. We are happy to play anybody. We just want the games to come fast so that we can challenge everybody,” Coppell said at the pre-match media interaction on the eve of the tie.

Asked if they have an upper hand going in to the game, Coppell said like ATK, Chennaiyin are looking for a win badly too and it will be a hard fought battle.

“I don’t think there’s any advantage. I just think about how we can play the opposition. Can we win the game? Yes of course we can. We have a game plan and hope that will bring fruition and points for us. They are desperate for a win and its going to be a game between two sides fighting for three points at stake.”

Coppell informed that Kalu Uche, who was surprisingly left out of the squad, hurt his hamstring during training ahead of the match against Jamshedpur, and was thus not risked.

“When we did some sprints in Jamshedpur he felt a niggle in his hamstring. We made a call to rest him for that game knowing these two games are coming soon. I made the call to leave him out totally but he is fit to play tomorrow.”

Chennaiyin are also badly in need of three points.

“We’ve played four matches and there are some new faces in the team. They are taking some time to settle down. Day-by-day, the performance level is improving. We’re working on our mistakes but I think we’re getting better,” said Chennaiyin assistant coach Sabir Pasha.

The champions have been leaky in defence so far but the pair of Inigo Calderon and Eli Sabia looked confident against the Dynamos.

However, their finishing left a lot to be desired in Delhi. Considering the kind of chances Carlos Salom spurned, Gregory could bring back last year’s top scorer Jeje Lalpekhlua into the starting XI.

“ATK is always strong. No doubt they have lost two matches at home. But they will come stronger tomorrow. They can’t be taken lightly. They play really hard and put the opponent under pressure,” said Pasha.

–IANS

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