ISL 2017-18: ATK hope to get back to winning ways against resurgent Kerala Blasters
ATK are the most successful franchise of the ISL but the team think tank chose to overhaul the squad this season, walking out of a successful partnership with La Liga team Atletico Madrid.
Kolkata: Smarting from four consecutive defeats, ATK will hope to salvage some pride when they take on a resurgent Kerala Blasters FC in an Indian Super League (ISL) fixture on Thursday.
The two-time champions suffered their fourth defeat in a row when they lost 0-2 to Bengaluru FC in the previous match, ending their title hopes.
ATK are the most successful franchise of the ISL but the team think tank chose to overhaul the squad this season, walking out of a successful partnership with Spain's La Liga team Atletico Madrid.
Former Manchester United star Teddy Sheringham was roped in as the chief coach as the team had a distinctive English touch but was shown the door after just 10 matches.
Technical director Ashley Westwood, the I-League winning Bengaluru FC coach, was given the interim charge but there was no change in their fortunes.
Even the club's owners have accepted the team was in the middle of a disastrous season and blamed it on the new setup.
"We had a Spanish coach and Spanish players. We were champions in the first two editions out of three.
New team new coach. We could not get our combination right. The change in management did not work for us," former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, a co-owner of the franchise said.
Plagued by injuries to key players, including Irish great Robbie Keane, ATK are now placed eighth in the table with 12 points from 13 matches.
In arithmetical probability, ATK may still have a chance to make the last-four however, the Kolkata side would look to end the season on a high note by winning the remaining five matches.
While ATK have not been able to find their act together, David James' men have managed successive wins on the back of four losses from 12 matches to keep their play-off hopes alive with four matches remaining.
Kerala pipped Pune City FC 2-1 in their last outing courtesy of a last-gasp winner by CK Vineeth.
The Blasters will be without defender Sandesh Jhingan (who picked up his fourth yellow card against Pune City) for Thursday's match as it remains to be seen whether ATK get back to winning ways.
For the Kochi-based outfit, a hat-trick of win will take them to the top half of the table as they now have 20 points from 14 matches to be on sixth position.
In a statement, European football's governing body said the decision to allow five subs at the delayed tournament had been taken as "the rule is already in place for the World Cup qualification matches that will run from March 2021 to March 2022."
Pakistan football has been run by a FIFA-appointed committee since 2019, but members were evicted from their Lahore office last week by a group claiming to have held legitimate elections.
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