ISL 2017-18: Robbie Keane-less ATK aim to win against FC Pune City in first home match
ATK were held to a goalless draw by Kerala Blasters in the ISL opener in Kochi and are also missing their star recruit, Robbie Keane.
Kolkata: Defending champions ATK would look to kickstart their home leg with a victory when they face FC Pune City in the fourth edition of the Indian Super League (ISL) at the Salt Lake Stadium on Sunday.
ATK were held to a goalless draw by Kerala Blasters in the ISL opener in Kochi and are also missing their star recruit, former Tottenham Hotspur striker, Robbie Keane.
ATK coach Teddy Sheringham confirmed that the Irish forward will not feature in Sunday's encounter.
"We are looking forward to Robbie to come back. Things have progressed well. He won't play tomorrow but maybe next week or after that. We have other players who can score, not only Robbie," the 51-year-old coach said at the pre-match press conference.
The Irishman is treating an injury back home but the coach insisted that ATK have players who can score goals.
"We're hoping that with the progress he (Keane) has made, he will be available next week or maybe the week after that. We have players that can score goals, it's not just about one player."
The visitors are smarting from their 2-3 defeat at home as they will be banking on Emiliano Alfaro, who had netted five goals for NorthEast United last season.
Sheringham was not taking the Ranko Popovic-coached side lightly
"They are a very dangerous outfit. They have some exceptional players. They lost the last game but in some areas, they are very good," he said about Pune side which finished sixth last season.
Having played their home matches at the Rabindra Sarovar Stadium, ATK will also look forward to playing at the Salt Lake Stadium.
"We are here to impress our fans," the coach said.
Taking up the responsibility of his side's defeat against Delhi Dynamos, Pune coach Popovic said that he is open to suggestions from players with ISL experience and looked forward to getting three points.
"We want to play a good game. We will do everything to get three points. We are working hard. Nobody is favourites in this tournament. Tomorrow is a new day, let's see what happens."
"I don't want to blame any player. I am responsible first then the players. The defenders tried their best last game."
In the last four meetings of the two sides, Pune have won twice with ATK winning at home in 2015. Their last meeting ended in a goalless draw on 2 December last year.
No fee has been disclosed but British media reported value the deal at £34 million ($47 million) rising to £48 million with add-ons.
He scored two goals in 21 games in Madrid before joining Milan last season on loan, scoring seven goals in 39 appearances for the northern Italian outfit.
The former East Bengal winger, a product of United Punjab FC, moves on a free transfer and joins the Blues ahead of their upcoming AFC Cup playoff stage clash against Eagles FC.