Preview: A day after Ashley Westwood stepped down as interim coach of ATK, the reigning champions, who are hopelessly out of form, will look to end their campaign on a high when they take on fellow strugglers NorthEast United in an Indian Super League (ISL) tie on Sunday.
According to team officials, assistant-coach Bastab Roy and Irish star Robbie Keane will be in charge for their last fixture at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan.
Roy and Keane could continue in the ensuing Super Cup qualifiers as well. However, for those games, former Mohun Bagan coach Sanjoy Sen too could give inputs even if he is not in the technical area.
Westwood, 41, was the technical director of the two-time champions before he had to take up the coach's job as Teddy Sheringham was removed owing to a string of underwhelming performances.
But fortunes did not turn for the Sourav Ganguly co-owned side as they lost six games under him and drew only once.
Westwood, who won two I-League titles and a Federation Cup in three seasons with Bengaluru FC, was in the technical area for the last time when ATK were pummelled 1-5 by FC Goa on Thursday. It was learnt that the heavy defeat was the final nail in the coffin.
ATK are placed ninth in the 10-team points table and have won only three games this season, losing ten times in 17 ties.
The champions in the inaugural edition and 2016 have only looked downhill this season with a raft of injuries to key players adding to their woes.
ATK won the first ISL with Antonio Habas who stayed on for the 2015 season.
In 2016, ATK, whose football squad was run with help from Spanish giants Atletico Madrid for the first three seasons, captured the title with Jose Molina at the helm.
Speaking at the pre-match press conference, Keane, a former Tottenham Hotspur striker, told reporters that even though he was only informed about his new responsibility at the club on Friday, he is still well prepared for the challenge at hand.
"I got a phone call yesterday and said in the circumstances can you take the responsibility. I was, of course, happy about it. We've prepared these last few days to our best ability and we're looking forward to tomorrow's game," he said.
"I'm very relaxed and confident in this position. I have to organise a few things with the coaching staff in the last couple of days. I've been captain of various clubs. I was the national captain for many years. So I have almost always had that responsibility," said Keane, who missed a number of games this season due to injury.
Keane also said that despite having failed to make an impression, he and his team will give their best in the game on Sunday to finish the season on a winning note.
"I'm focussed on the game as player-manager and the players have also responded well to me. My responsibility is to organise the team for this game, and honestly, all I'm concentrating on is that," he said.
Coming to their rivals, NorthEast are rock-bottom in the table and have also looked the worse for wear throughout.
The Avram Grant-managed side have lost their last five encounters, the latest being a 2-3 reversal at the hands of Mumbai City FC.
The Highlanders have lost as many as 12 games out of 17 this term and would also want to salvage some pride before ending engagements.
"We have to give our best no matter what the circumstances. We have played well in some of the games but we have failed to pick up the right results. I think when you are losing with one goal in games we are playing well, we need to check ourselves," Grant said.
With inputs from IANS
Published Date: Mar 04, 2018 20:03 PM | Updated Date: Mar 04, 2018 20:03 PM